Diving is a dark art, and one best left to forwards.
Newcastle beat Man United at St James’ Park courtesy of Chris Smalling taking a tumble in an attempt to deceive the referee.
The 28-year-old centre-back threw himself to the ground under little pressure from Jonjo Shelvey and Craig Pawson rightly blew his whistle and booked Smalling for simulation.
As if the yellow card (and embarrassment) wasn’t enough of a punishment, the hosts then took advantage by scoring the game’s only goal from the resultant free-kick.
Fittingly, it was Shelvey who floated the ball to the back post where Florian Lejeune won an uncontested header, nodding the ball down to Dwight Gayle.
Newcastle’s No9 then flicked it into the path of Matt Ritchie, who shot first time with his left foot to give David De Gea no chance of pulling off a similarly miraculous save that had denied Shelvey earlier in the game.
Paul Pogba was marking Lejeune at the free-kick but opted not to jump and compete for the header, possibly because he was playing through an injury.
The French midfielder appeared to tweak something, most likely his hamstring, in the warm-up but wasn’t withdrawn until moments after Ritchie’s decisive goal.
The St James’ Park faithful will feel justice was done after they were denied a clear penalty in the first half when Pawson missed Smalling’s trip on Gayle just inside the box.
Ultimately, it was a Smalling error, spotted by Pawson, that cost Jose Mourinho’s side the game.
Newcastle deserved the win with several players putting in spirited performances, none more so than keeper Martin Dubravka.
The 29-year-old Slovakian was immense on debut, capping off a superb all-round display with a dramatic save to deny Michael Carrick with seconds left on the clock.
United are now 16 points behind neighbours Man City.
Pep Guardiola’s troops swaggered to an impressive 5-1 win at home to Leicester on Saturday with Sergio Aguero scoring four goals and Kevin De Bruyne providing three assists.
If there was any doubt as to the destination of the Premier League title before kick-off, surely now it’s settled.
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