Rafa Benitez had the look of somebody after the final whistle at Old Trafford, who had just seen a match unfold exactly as he imagined it would do.

Setting his team up to have the chance of getting up the pitch as well as trying to stay tight at the back, the United boss must have been delighted with what he saw early on.

The defending was good and when the Newcastle players got forward in numbers, they created a handful of decent situations as well as set-piece opportunities to get the ball in the box.

Dwight Gayle’s opening goal was well deserved and indeed there were chances to make it two, with sometimes players like Jacob Murphy choosing the wrong option.

However, even when the better team in that opening half hour, there were already signs that Newcastle wouldn’t be able to keep that up.

The ball was increasingly been given away and at times it was only the pace of Yedlin and decent showings by the two centre-backs, that kept the Mancs at bay.

However, with the likes of Lukaku and Pogba each costing more than the entire Newcastle team, it was odds on that it couldn’t last.

Rafa Benitez declaring after the game ‘This time you saw the difference between money spent’.

Money doesn’t always bring quality but if you spend enough of it then it usually does, whilst in Newcastle’s case, spending so relatively little means you usually get what you pay for.

The lack of overall quality meant that passes were intercepted and then when say it leads to Paul Pogba gets one on one with Isaac Hayden it is very difficult, the Newcastle man should have done a lot better but instead Pogba easily evaded him on the right hand side and had all the time in the world to produce a cross that was very hard to defend, especially with Rob Elliot tied to his line the entire match.

As Rafa points out, the game was lost with the first and especially the second goal, not what happened after half-time as he allowed his players to try and retrieve the game by getting that crucial fourth goal of the contest.

Rafa Benitez says he was ‘proud of my players’ in seeing what they were capable of in that opening half hour especially.

Sadly, much more quality (and money spent) is desperately needed if Newcastle are to sustain that level of performance over 90 minutes.

Nice to see though that we definitely do have some players who do have that quality.

Rafa Benitez:

“I am proud of my players because we knew that would be a difficult game.

“After conceding the first and especially the second goal, that made a huge difference.

“We took more risks after conceding the third, and we eventually conceded another. And that is hard, because we knew then we couldn’t win and so retaining belief is quite hard.

“This time you saw the difference between money spent.

“It is not something we didn’t know and we knew it would make a massive difference between both teams.

“But I am really pleased with what I saw in the first 30 minutes and I think it is a quite simple analysis.

“A really good first half for 30 minutes, everything was right, we were working hard, we had a clear idea what to do, we did well.

“Then we conceded a goal and the second goal made a difference in terms of the mentality – we then had the chance with Hayden (on stroke of half-time) later on but couldn’t score.

“The second half was more difficult because the belief that we had in the first half, to keep this belief until the end, depended on a goal.

“So when we conceded a third, it was a different game.

“But I am really pleased and really proud of my players in the first 30 minutes.

“When you pay big money for players they can make the difference, so if you make mistakes you pay for that, because you play against top class players.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1

Goals:

Newcastle United: Gayle 14

Manchester United: Martial 37 Smalling 45+1, Pogba 54, Lukaku 70

Possession was Man Utd 65% Newcastle 35%

Total shots were  Man Utd 16 Newcastle 12

Shots on target were Man Utd 7 Newcastle 5

Corners were  Man Utd 11 Newcastle 4

Referee: Craig Pawson

Newcastle United:

Elliot, Yedlin, Clark, Lejeune, Manquillo, Ritchie (Aarons 66), Shelvey, Hayden, Murphy, Joselu (Mitrovic 71), Gayle (Diame 77)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Gamez, Perez, Mbemba

Crowd: 75,035 (Newcastle 3,100)

(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the match go HERE)

(To read what Jose Mourinho said after the game go HERE)

(To read NUFC Match Ratings from the game go HERE)

(Gary Linker gives message to Newcastle fans after defeat at Old Trafford – Read HERE)