Ole Gunnar Solskjær knows about hit substitution, but even Manchester United's former Supersub superlatives must have been pleasantly surprised when Romelu Lukaku stepped off his bench and scored with his first touch.
Until the departure of Belgian Solskjær, Rafael Benítez appeared to have outplayed the use of counter-and-counter tactics, but at the end of a bitterly cold Tyneside night, the impressive Marcus Rashford had four wins from four with a second success for the provisional successor to José Mourinho.
It turns the Norwegian into the first Manchester United coach since Sir Matt Busby won his inaugural quartet. Perhaps he taught instructively that giving up the role in May would be "hard" to return to his "day job" in Molde, Norway. "Of course I do not want to go," he said, half curious. "I do not want."
His smile suggested that he knows that he is most likely to do so ̵
Benítez had rejected the rare goalkeeper error of Martin Dubravka, who had preferred Lukaku, to the opener. "We have to be disappointed with how we lost," he said. "We were about to get something, but then we made a mistake and paid for it."
Solskjær's greatest success seems to be liberating the creative fantasies of Mourinho's intimidated players. With attending full-backs Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw advancing against Benítez 'five-man defense, Dubravka saved Rashford's clumsy early shot to safety, it felt like it could be a long night for Newcastle.
Things seem to have changed since last time, when Solskjær patrolled the technical area for absence here in the spring of 2014. At that time, Alan Pardews won Newcastle 3-0, confirming the descent of Cardiff from the Premier League.
Not that the Norwegian could afford to relax, as he overlooked a line that could have easily conceded an early goal, as Phil Jones had poorly survived the back pass played Salomón Rondón next door, and gathered the hitherto noisy traveling fans up in the Leazes End.
Eventually, Jones recovered to save the situation, but Benítez had an optimistic outlook.
Only Dubravka's ingenious positioning prevented Rashford After Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schär collided in their own field and Paul Pogba routinely entered the left-winger channel with a destructive goal, the last ball of the visiting team did not quite come out. Not even Newcastle, but at least Christian Atsu used his pace to make good use of the home left, and took advantage of the space that Valencia had often left behind. The problem was that Atsu fired the first shot on two half chances David de Gea judged and shot the less than perfectly controlled second goal over the goal.
Rondón saw another half-chance with a decent Atsu cross, but Jones's presence seemed to limit his jump and the resulting header flew harmlessly over the crossbar.
Watching Alan Shearer might have scored a point in this situation, but at least Rondón was there. This gives the Solskjær defenders reason to restrain their aggressiveness. That was important, especially since Lascelle's style was also close at the other end, albeit for a different reason, the yellow card he received for a compelling challenge against Ander Herrera.
When Lascelles had gently roughened himself Rashford, Jonjo Shelvey, who came home in the second half, wore some defensive passages that were outside the boot, but he was fortunate to be in the field after a high, late challenge to stay with which he caught Pogba on his back a knee with raised rivets.
This incident should not distract from Benítez's worthy schedule. The increasingly urgent little chats that Solskjær and his assistant Mike Phelan had with Juan Mata during the second-half breaks emphasized that Newcastle had managed to deny their guests room for liquid assault maneuvers.
An unlikely hero in this collective masterclass in the art of zealous closing was Matt Ritchie. Newcastle's right-wing left-back turned out to be personified as he reduced the threat of Valencia and Mata.
Solskjær had the time to free Lukaku and Alexis Sánchez from the bench, and as Dubravka Rashford's uneven free-kick from Rashford was Lukaku's 25-meter free-kick. He responded immediately and responded with his first touch, reacting faster than Lascelles to push the rebound across the line. At the end of a turn, he had started himself. Lukaku challenged Sánchez with a pass that not only tracked down Rashford, but also raised hope for a top-4 finish.
"Marcus has a great success," Solskjær added over his first blank page. "He must have watched Cristiano while training. Without reaching the heights, it was a very professional achievement. "