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Amad Diallo’s rocket and Rasmus Hojlund’s fine finish secured Manchester United and under-fire Erik ten Hag a much-needed win against fellow European hopefuls Newcastle in their final home match of a season to forget.

The injury-ravaged Red Devils have lost 19 in all competitions this term and knew defeat on Wednesday would set unwanted records, as well as end any hope of continental qualification through the Premier League.

But as United’s new decision-makers Ineos consider how to turn the club around, there was a glimpse of what could have been – and perhaps could yet still be – under Ten Hag as they ran out 3-2 victors against Newcastle.

It was far from perfect but Kobbie Mainoo put United into a deserved lead midway through a first half that saw Anthony Gordon’s penalty appeals rejected and a Dan Burn header cleared off the line by Casemiro.

Gordon drew Newcastle level early in the second half and Sofyan Amrabat’s block sent an Alexander Isak strike looping onto the bar as Ten Hag’s team wobbled, only for Diallo to laser the hosts back ahead.

Recently criticised substitute Hojlund drove home a third as the clock wound down, meaning Lewis Hall’s wonderful stoppage-time strike was only a consolation.

The win puts eighth-placed United level on 57 points with Newcastle in seventh, but they are well behind on goal difference heading into the final day of the season.

It was a thrilling end to a game that began with Amrabat helping to save the blushes of makeshift centre-back Casemiro, who acrobatically hooked narrowly over once the hosts settled.

Scott McTominay and Diallo soon got away efforts on Martin Dubravka’s goal, before the Newcastle goalkeeper stopped Alejandro Garnacho at his near post after fine link-up with returning skipper Bruno Fernandes.

Kobbie Mainoo scores the opener
Kobbie Mainoo scores the opener (Martin Rickett/PA)

The home side were impressing and went ahead in the 31st minute.

Sharp-looking Diallo cut in from the right and sent a low ball through to Mainoo, who was played onside by Kieran Trippier – making his first start since early March – and coolly found the bottom corner.

Gordon had called for his team-mates up to the tempo just before the opener and was soon in a heap in the box, but referee Robert Jones and VAR Jarred Gillett ignored penalty appeals.

Amrabat got away with catching the forward’s heel in his attempt to recover from an error before a tackle by Casemiro, who was soon nodding a header from Burn off the line.

Eddie Howe’s side continued to push as half-time approached but it was the hosts that went closest as Diallo played a great one-two with Mainoo, only for Jacob Murphy to take the ball off his toe.

It was good defensive play by a winger who provided the assist for Newcastle’s equaliser four minutes into the second half.

Alexander Isak played wide to Murphy after the visitors dealt with a long ball and his first-time cross was directed past Andre Onana by Gordon.

Newcastle went close to a quickfire second after an Aaron Wan-Bissaka error, starting a three on one attack that ended with outnumbered Amrabat deflecting Isak’s shot onto the bar.

But for all of Man United’s faults this season they have often shown a fighting spirit.

This time, just as they wobbled, Diallo unleashed a rocket that flew past Dubravka after Newcastle failed to clear a corner.

Anthony Gordon levelled the scores
Anthony Gordon levelled the scores (Martin Rickett/PA)

McTominay stung the palms of the goalkeeper and Fernandes whistled narrowly over as the Red Devils pushed for another, before Onana produced a double save.

Play swung from end-to-end and Ten Hag turned to his bench, bringing on Marcus Rashford – who appeared to be abused by a fan before kick-off – and Lisandro Martinez after six weeks out.

Hojlund also came on and took little time to make his mark, striking a low effort effort past Dubravka in the 84th minute. He enjoyed silencing the critics.

As you would expect from Ten Hag’s team, there was still time for nerves and Hall’s excellent stoppage-time strike only increased the anxiety.

But the hosts held firm and Rashford was twice stopped from grabbing another.