Wayne Rooney inspired Manchester United to a 3-1 win over Newcastle by scoring twice and setting up another for Robin van Persie, even if Papiss Cisse’s late penalty took some of the gloss off an excellent victory at Old Trafford.
The victory means the Reds are unbeaten in eight Barclays Premier League matches and, impressively, have now recorded 11 consecutive wins on Boxing Day. Such a performance also suggests Louis van Gaal was right to let his players spend Christmas at home.
The boss made just one change from the XI that started at Aston Villa, with Paddy McNair coming into his three-man defence so that Michael Carrick could move back into midfield in place of the benched Darren Fletcher. Angel Di Maria was the only notable absentee from the matchday squad with an injury sustained during the Reds’ final training session.
United began at a lively pace and looked ambitious in the final third, although the first real chance of the game fell to Ayoze Perez, who took a fresh-air shot when presented with a clear view at goal in the 11th minute. Radamel Falcao, starting at Old Trafford for the first time since 5 October, then headed Ashley Young’s right-footed cross just wide of goal.
Moments later, in the 15th minute, Robin van Persie latched onto Wayne Rooney’s lofted pass and slid a low shot into the side-netting after rounding the advancing Magpies goalkeeper, Jak Alnwick. Daryl Janmaat then forced an excellent save from the in-form David De Gea midway through the first half with a rasping drive from around 25 yards, a minute before van Persie ghosted into the area once again to head Young’s in-swinging cross wide of the far post.
United eventually made a breakthrough in the 23rd minute with an excellent counter attack that left fans purring at Old Trafford. Rooney started it off inside his own half with a lovely pass out wide to Juan Mata, whose brilliantly chipped cross was astutely played back across the