Having lost at home to Newcastle last season, and having endured some scary moments in the seven goal thriller of Boxing Day 2012, United fans will have welcomed a return to routine duty in this fixture against a side who caused a few problems to United’s back three early one, but were ultimately beaten with something to spare.
Although United had the best of the early possession, the visitors carried a threat on the break and McNair had to dispossess Perez on the edge of the box after his long run carried him towards goal. Soon after Perez was unmarked in the area but made a hash of his shot when the ball fell invitingly to him. At the other end, Van Persie beat the offside trap but failed to get his shot on target and also saw a glancing header go wide. In between De Gea was forced to make a fine save when to push away Janmaart’s long range effort.
The pattern of the game was set, however, when United took the lead after a move started by Rooney in his own half ended with the United captain getting on the end of Falcao’s cut-back to finish decisively. Rooney made it two nine minutes before the break when Mata’s deft pass into the area received the same clinical treatment.
Rooney turned provider for the third, which came early in the second half. Picking up the ball in midfield, he placed an inch-perfect ball into the box for Van Persie to head into the far corner. United visibly eased off from that point, presumably with an eye on Sunday’s meeting with Spurs, but still looked in control of the game. Newcastle, having had appeals for a penalty early in the first half turned down, pulled one back with Cisse’s late spot kick after Jones had put a careless leg out in the area, but by then the job was done.
Although Newcastle had caused some problems with their counter-attacks early in the game, this was an accomplished performance and deserved victory for the Reds. Rooney once again looked excellent in midfield, Mata’s passing play was a delight to watch at times and Young continues to look a revelation at left wing-back, his overlapping runs and accurate crossing a constant danger. United now face two away league games prior to the Cup trip to Yeovil, with the game at Spurs potentially providing an interesting measure of how far Van Gaal’s side has come.