United 3 Newcastle 0
United got off to the start they craved last night with an emphatic 3-0 win over a spirited, but limited Newcastle United side.
Sir Alex chose to go with the experienced strike pair of Rooney and Berbatov whilst also choosing to leave his two major summer signings, Hernandez and Smalling, on the bench. Michael Owen, who had played a part in the Community Shield victory over Chelsea, didn`t make the eighteen man final squad. The visitors included an ex-United player in Alan Smith in their ranks.
The visitors got off to a decent start, keeping possession and keeping things tight but the first shot was to come from United with Rooney blazing rather ambitiously over the bar after exchanging a one-two with Nani!.
Newcastle though had a glorious chance to open the scoring with ten minutes played when a Barton corner found the head of Carroll but the striker somehow failed to hit the target with his header going wide.
United fought back and O`Shea thought he`d made the breakthrough but a great block from Smith kept the score at 0-0. The earlier miss by Carroll seemed to provide United with the spark they needed and they were now dominant in possession
Newcastle were still probing though and it took a save from Van der Sar, from a Carroll shot, to keep the game scoreless. Barton received the first yellow card of the game after a poor tackle on Nani, a bit predictable perhaps. A second yellow card was then flashed when Perch let Nani slip in behind him and his unconventional method of stopping the Portuguese winger wasn`t appreciated by the referee, Chris Foy.
As the half hour mark approached some comical defending by the visitors involving Coloccini and Williamson saw the latter seek redemption with a decent challenge on Nani to prevent the winger opening the scoring. United were now getting on top and Berbatov became more involved, first forcing Harper to tip away a cross and then heading down a Valencia cross for Rooney to fire over.
Two minutes later though, with thirty-three minutes played, United took the lead when Berbatov scored. Our visitors were slow to clear the ball and Valencia won possession playing the ball to Scholes who picked out Berbatov lurking on the right corner of the penalty area. The Bulgarians shot was low and hard and past Harper into the far corner of the net.
A response from Newcastle was almost immediate when Gutierrez just failed to pick out Nolan in the six yard box. Barton, pushing forward, then chose the wrong option of shooting straight at Van der Sar instead of picking out a team mate in a better position. Another attack with three Newcastle players faced with three United defenders saw Gutierrez lose possession by over-running the ball and taking a tumble.
Three minutes before half time Newcastle were left to rue those missed chances when United scored a second goal. It came after Nani set Evra free down the flank and his low cross took a touch off Rooney before falling nicely for Fletcher to drill home from close range.
United started the second half as they`d finished the first, on top. Harper did well to collect a Nani cross before Nani scampered clear of Barton before being outnumbered as he approached the penalty area.
Scholes, having a delightful game, picked up a yellow card after a poor tackle on Nolan, not the last he`ll pick up this season we suspect before the midfielder thought he had a legitimate appeal for a penalty turned down after a challenge from Colocinni. Another exceptional pass from Scholes helped create a chance for Berbatov but his shot drifted just wide.
Fletcher was the next name in the book after a rash challenge on Bartonbefore, just past the hour mark, Sir Alex took off Wayne Rooney and introduced Javier Hernandez. Scholes continued to dictate matters in the middle of the park and another smart ball saw Nani hit a shot wide before Fletcher hit an effort straight at Berbatov.
Much of Scholes fine passes were finding Berbatov but one again the chance couldn`t be taken as the Bulgarian volleyed miles wide. Chasing the game Newcastle introduced Ameobi for Nolan and Sir Alex responded by bringing on Giggs in place of Nani.
As the game entered its last fifteen minutes of normal time, Scholes created a chance for Hernandez but the Mexican couldn`t convert it for his first United goal at Old Trafford. Newcastle briefly threatened to get back into the game but Ameobi could only head Barton`s cross wide. Berbatov then forced Harper into a save with his legs as United looked for a third goal after yet another awesome Scholes pass.
Two minutes later, with eighty-five minute son the clock the third goal came. Newcastle lost possession and that man Scholes found Giggs with a dynamic pass who saw his volley hit the ground and flash past Harper into the net.
Game, set and match to United.
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