Premier League: Man Utd 3-1 Newcastle
Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle: Vintage Rooney stars for Red Devils
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Wayne Rooney put in a vintage performance as Manchester United beat Newcastle 3-1 at Old Trafford to make it seven wins from eight Premier League games.
Having been held to a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa last Saturday, Louis van Gaal's side will have been eager to get back to winning ways in the Boxing Day clash.
And United had little difficulty in doing so, cruising to a comfortable victory despite the continued absence of winger Angel Di Maria, whose return to the first team was delayed after picking up an injury in training.
England captain Rooney was the architect of a routine triumph that solidified United's position in third, with a double taking the 29-year-old's league tally against Newcastle to 12.
He opened the scoring in the 23rd minute via a close-range finish at the end of a wonderful United move, before adding a second in very similar fashion nine minutes before half-time.
The points were made safe eight minutes into the second half as the skipper set up Robin van Persie to head home a third, although Newcastle did net an 87th-minute consolation thanks to Papiss Cisse's penalty.
The game sprung into life in the 12th minute following a quiet start as both teams spurned chances.
First Ayoze Perez failed to connect with a volley from Adam Armstrong's cross after the 17-year-old - brought into the Newcastle side as one of two changes by Alan Pardew - did well to keep the ball in play.
Radamel Falcao was unable to get any purchase on a delivery from the left with the goal seemingly at his mercy, and the hosts were fortunate not to concede a penalty when Juan Mata looked to have tripped Yoan Gouffran as the Frenchman chased a long ball over the defence.
David de Gea pulled off a fine diving save to his right to keep out Daryl Janmaat's fierce drive from long range, and Newcastle were made to pay for not taking advantage of their early pressure by a clinical move from Van Gaal's men.
Mata was heavily involved again as he lifted a clever ball over the top to Falcao, who stretched to sweep a low cross into the path of Rooney to slot past a helpless Jak Alnwick.
Newcastle continued to show the ambition to get forward, although United's superior quality was evident throughout.
And it was defensive carelessness that led to Rooney's second, the former Everton man latching on to Mata's clever pass and confidently finding the bottom left corner after Gouffran had given the ball away.
Rooney turned creator eight minutes into the second half when his expertly lofted pass was nodded into the bottom corner by Van Persie to effectively end the game as a contest.
With a busy period of fixtures to negotiate, United understandably took their foot off the gas in the closing exchanges. Still, Rooney went close to completing his hat-trick by curling a free-kick narrowly over the crossbar.
The third goal did not arrive for Rooney as Newcastle instead restored some pride through Cisse's confident spot-kick into the top-right corner following Phil Jones' foul on Jack Colback.
Yet that strike came too late for a comeback and proved to be little more than a footnote in a result that should give United plenty of hope going into a tricky trip to Tottenham on Sunday.