Premier League - United cruise past Newcastle

Eurosport - Tue, 17 Aug 00:35:00 2010

Manchester United began their Premier League campaign in commanding fashion with a resounding 3-0 victory over Newcastle United at Old Trafford.

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United have never lost an opening fixture at home under Sir Alex Ferguson, and within 33 minutes the hosts were ahead courtesy of a clinical finish from Dimitar Berbatov with Paul Scholes the provider.

Darren Fletcher doubled his side's lead eight minutes later with an opportunist close-range finish, and a volley from substitute Ryan Giggs made it three late on after an exquisite pass from the imperious Scholes.

United predictably enjoyed the early pressure, but it was Newcastle who carved out the game's first clear-cut chance in the 11th minute: Andy Carroll rose majestically above Nemanja Vidic from Kevin Nolan's corner, but the forward could only direct it wide of the near post.

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Man Utd 3 Newcastle 0

Ferguson handed Berbatov a starting berth alongside Wayne Rooney with Javier Hernandez confined to the substitutes' bench and the Scot's decision was vindicated after the half hour.

The Bulgarian stole in behind the Newcastle defence to latch on to Scholes's incisive through ball before finishing with aplomb to leave Steve Harper helpless in the Newcastle goal.

A period of incessant United pressure followed, and the hosts deservedly doubled their lead in the 41st minute as Rooney deflected a cross from the marauding Patrice Evra into Fletcher's path. The Scot's positioning was superb, and his finish was clinical.

The second half began where the first left off, and Scholes was left to feel aggrieved after referee Chris Hoy waved play on following a challenge from Fabricio Coloccini inside the Newcastle box.

Seconds later Rooney, who has nine goals against Newcastle to his name, unselfishly looked to play in Berbatov when clean through on goal and another glorious opportunity for a third goal went begging.

Rooney made way for Hernandez just after the hour mark, making it 13 matches without a goal for the Englishman for club and country, and a rousing reception greeted the jet-heeled Mexican upon his arrival.

Scholes was instrumental as the hosts kept possession with consummate ease in the final half hour, and Berbatov linked the play expertly to keep Newcastle firmly under the cosh.

Giggs was introduced among a flurry of substitutions from both sides with 20 minutes remaining and another, Shola Ameobi, should have hit the target with a towering header from a Nolan corner.

Another deft through ball from the princely Scholes almost provided Berbatov with his second as the Bulgarian planted a tame shot straight at Harper following some intricate footwork, but by this point the hosts were in cruise control.

There was still time for the old-timers to make their mark once more, and substitute Giggs coolly volleyed beyond Harper from Scholes's deft delivery to round off a sublime performance from the hosts.

United are now unbeaten in their last 27 top-flight home matches against Newcastle, and have a strong platform from which to build in the new campaign.

Dan Quarrell / Eurosport

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