MAN UNITED 3, NEWCASTLE UNITED 1
Wayne Rooney again showed that playing in a deeper midfield role has not blunted his cutting edge.
Manchester United’s captain scored twice in the emphatic victory against Newcastle United which strengthened their hold on third place in the Barclays Premier League.
Rooney’s red hot scoring spree continued as his brace made it five goals in his last six matches and took his total to 181 in the Premier League, six shy of Andy Cole on the all-time list.
And the influential and inspirational Rooney also provided and assist for Robin van Persie, the scorer of the Reds’ third goal.
The win also extended United’s unbeaten run in the league to eight games, seven wins and a draw which has seen them collect 22 points from a possible 24.
It was also a display which delighted United manager Louis van Gaal who said: “We dominated the game for 90 minutes. That is the most important thing, the way we dominated.
“Despite our defensive way of playing, we create chances and scored goals, fantastic goals, and I am very pleased with the performance.”
Dutchman van Gaal was also fulsome in his praise for Rooney adding: “When you score two goals and provide an assist for the third, I am happy as a manager while he is happy too.
“He has lung capacity to run 90 minutes as a midfielder which is why I have used him there. He can play as a striker, but he is better at the moment to play in midfield.”
After a dull opening, the game sparked to life as Radamel Falcao’s glanced header was deflected for a corner while van Persie rounded keeper Jak Alnwick, but shot wide from a tight angle.
Newcastle were a continual threat on the counter attack and from one break they had a strong shout for a penalty rejected when Juan Mata appeared to shove Yoan Gouffran off the ball.
United keeper David De Gea then pulled off a superb save to turn over a 30-yard drive from Daryl Janmaat as Newcastle went close for a second time.
The deadlock was broken midway through the opening period when Rooney broke from defence, Mata sprayed a great ball to Falcao who, sliding in, managed to squad a pass to Rooney who had an easy conversion.
Rooney doubled United’s lead with his second of the game and eighth of the season in the 36th minute when Mata cut in from the right and released his team mate who shot low past Alnwick from 12 yards. It was also his 12th Premier League strike against the Magpies.
It got even better for United who added a third goal early in the second half when Rooney’s lofted pass split the Newcastle defence as van Persie got inbetween two defenders to head home low to the left of Alnwick for his eighth of the season.
The third goal killed off the contest as United were able to take off Falcao and Carrick with almost half an hour remaining to rest them for Sunday’s game at Tottenham.
Newcastle’s best chance of the game came with 11 minutes remaining when Ayoze Perez cut in past Paddy McNair, but his angled shot was well kept out by the legs of keeper David De Gea.
They finally got on to the scoresheet with less than four minute remaining when Jack Colback was adjudged to have been brought down by Phil Jones as substitute Papiss Cisse scored from the spot.