Despite an opening 10-15 minutes full of determination and vigour, Newcastle were given a hostile welcome to big stage football on their return to the Premier league.
It took little time for Manchester United to show the cracks in Chris Hughton’s side as two goals before half time from Berbatov and Fletcher killed off the game.
All could have been different if Andy Carroll had converted what was easily Newcastle’s best chance over the 90 minutes, somehow missing the target with a free header from Joey Barton’s corner. Early in the game Gutierrez shocked the Man United defence with a couple of blistering runs, but they fizzled out into nothing as the midfielder looked inept of creating a final ball.
The centre of midfield made up of Barton, Smith and captain Nolan relentlessly chased down and tried to break up the flow of play. It was to no avail as Paul Scholes ran the midfield, picking out diagonal balls to split up the Newcastle defence.
There was an air of familiarity when Coloccini caused problems around his own box as a wayward pass fell Berbatov, who was dispossessed by a last ditch tackle from Williamson.
Berbatov went on to score the opener, getting on the end of a neat through ball from Scholes. The pace of Nani and Evra proved too much for James Perch playing right back as the two United players linked to provide Fletcher with the second goal, tapping in from close range.
Newcastle started brightly in the second half, fighting to pull a goal back but lacked the quality service to provide lone forward Carroll with any real chances.
Paul Scholes continued with an exhibition in precision passing, and also provided a trademark late tackle on Joey Barton, probably gaining more applause from football fans in the process.
Berbatov could have easily scored two or three had he converted what were two easy chances. Despite this, the striker showed the flair and confidence lacking in his game the previous season.
Newcastle brought on Ameobi for Nolan with 20 minutes to go. Shola headed a decent chance wide and it soon became a domination from the old guard as Ryan Giggs came on to volley home a cross from Paul Scholes in the 85th minute.
What will be worrying for Newcastle fans is the fact that they were outclassed by a side that didn’t perform near it’s potential. Rooney still looked haggard and low in confidence, and Hernandez wasn’t much different as his replacement in the 63rd minute. Manchester United’s defence were also guilty of some sloppy play on which a better side could have capitalised.
Newcastle Player Stats:
01. Harper – 6
14. Perch – 5
02. Coloccini – 5
06. Williamson – 7
03. Enrique – 6
10. Routledge – 5
17. Smith – 6
04. Nolan – 6 (Ameobi 71 – 4)
07. Barton – 5
18. Gutierrez – 6 (Xisco 80 – 4)
09. Carroll – 6
Man of the Match: Paul Scholes
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