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Wednesday, Dec 17th

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Manchester United hammer Newcastle 3-0 to climb pack into 2nd place in the League

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wayne_rooney_4Manchester United comfortably dominated a mediocre Newcastle United side at the Sports Direct Arena, cruising to a 3-0 victory over the Toon. Goals came from unexpected quarters as United kept pace with early leaders Chelsea in their hunt for a 20th English top division title. The defenders were at the top of their game on the evening, with Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra giving United the lead with early headed goals. Tom Cleverley then sealed the three points for the Red Devils with a superb long-range goal in the second half.

With Tim Krul out with an elbow injury, Steve Harper took charge for the Toon between the posts. Pardew chose to retain the same squad that only managed a point against Reading last week with Shane Ferguson’s good run of form earning him a starting spot against the daunting Red Devils. Cabaye made a return to the starting line-up after being benched in favour of Anita in the clash against Reading. Pardew chose to stick with his Senegalese duo in attack, with Cisse expected to lead the onslaught after scoring in the mid-week Europa League fixture against Bordeaux.

After a three goal onslaught at the hands of Tottenham, Sir Alex Ferguson continued with his keeper rotation policy, handing the gloves to De Gea. The defensive line remained unchanged from their match against Tottenham. Despite a decent goalscoring performance against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup, Anderson was forced to sit on the bench with Rooney taking up a midfield role behind Van Persie. Ferguson will be hopeful that the famed strike duo can combine effectively as they did against CFR Cluj to inflict a heavy defeat on the Toon tonight.

Manchester United dominated the early proceedings, denying Newcastle any possession of note. Van Persie was pivotal in yet another United goal as his corner kick was buried by Jonny Evans, who did well to jump high above an ineffective Ba to hand the visitors an early lead. The 8th minute goal woke up the sluggish Magpies who finally started to threaten in attack.

Harper almost gifted United a second as he dawdled on with the ball to allow Welbeck to dispossess the keeper. However, the stand-in keeper was spared the blushes as Welbeck failed to find the open net from the tight angle. The keeper was called into the action again minutes later as he dived sharply to his right to keep out a fierce free kick from Rooney.

United's second goal of the night came of another corner, with another defender doubling the lead for the away side. Rooney whipped in a beautiful corner as Evra made a darting run to slip his marker and head the ball past Harper in the 16th minute.

The second goal again brought Newcastle back into action as Gutierrez tested De Gea with a powerful long-range effort that flew just wide of the post. Ba also attempted to get his side back into the game slamming a flat corner kick from inside the box but his ambitious shot flew wide.

At the half hour mark, Howard Webb showed two yellow cards in quick succession to Ferdinand and Van Persie, infuriating Ferguson on the sidelines. The English referee then handed Tiote a yellow for his heavy challenge on Rooney as the mood on the pitch continued to heat up.

Welbeck had yet another attempt on goal after being cleverly released by Rooney on the side of the box. However, the Englishman ran too close to the line and just managed to slice the ball ineffectively across the face of the goal.

Gutierrez forced Webb to pull out his yellow card once again with a ridiculous challenge on Kagawa. Rooney had an opportunity to add a third two minutes before the first half ended but Van Persie headed deflection goalwards just overshot the Englishman standing in front of the open net.

The Toon dominated possession in United’s half for the final minutes of the opening half but failed to put one past De Gea.

The second half started without much action as both sides shared possession but failed to trouble either keeper considerably. Newcastle were controversially denied a goal at the 50th minute after Ba’s headed attempt came off the crossbar for Cisse to dive forward and head into the open net. De Gea scooped out the weak header although TV replays suggested that the ball was sufficiently over the line to grant Newcastle the goal.

The Toon continued their aerial onslaught on De Gea’s net, but the United defence was up to the task on each occasion. Sir Alex made his first substitution after 55 minutes, taking off Kagawa and introducing Antonio Valencia on the wings.

Newcastle made a double switch in an attempt to change the course of the game, taking off the ineffective Cisse and bringing on Shola Ameobi, while Shane Ferguson also made way for Vurnon Anita. Van Persie found the net after 65 minutes, but the Dutch striker was correctly adjudged offside by the linesman.

Cleverley though made it three for the Red Devils after 70 minutes, taking a long range shot from a Rooney lay off, that crept into the top corner with Harper’s dive to no avail.

The game slowed down considerably after Cleverley's stunner with Newcastle seemingly resigned to the result. Ferguson replaced Rooney with Scholes for the last 10 minutes in a bid to retain their lead till the final whistle.

Newcastle showed no signs of salvaging a consolation goal as United continued to test the Toon's defence with a good interplay of passes. Van Persie also made way for Giggs in the dying minutes of the game as Ferguson outlined his desire to hold on to their impressive three goal advantage.

Newcastle showed no real attacking threat at United comfortably closed in on the coveted three points from the away fixture.

The Red Devils now sit four points behind table toppers Chelsea and Ferguson’s men will have an opportunity to change all that when the two sides meet at the end of the month. Newcastle, meanwhile, stayed at 10th spot and Pardew will have a tough task rallying his squad to re-create the wonders of last season.

Teams:

Newcastle United: Steve Harper; David Santon, Mike Williamson, James Perch, Shane Ferguson (Vurnon Anita 63’); Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheick Tiote (Gael Bigirimana 80’), Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez; Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse (Shola Ameobi 63’)

Unused Subs: Jak Alnwick, Danny Simpson, Gabriel Obertan, Sammy Ameobi

Manchester United: David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick; Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney (Paul Scholes 79’), Shinji Kagawa (Antonio Valencia 55’); Robin Van Persie (Ryan Giggs 87’)

Unused Subs: Anders Lindegaard, Scott Wootton, Anderson, Javier Hernandez

Final Score: Newcastle United 0-3 Manchester United (Evans 8’, Evra 16’, Cleverley 71)

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File Photograph Copyright: Barry Zee