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Wednesday, August 11, 1999 Published at 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK

All too easy for Man Utd

Red alert: Paul Scholes hooks home the opening goal for United

Man Utd 4-0 Sheff Wed

Champions Manchester United illustrated the gulf in class in the Premiership with a comprehensive demolition of a sorry Sheffield Wednesday side.

The BBC's Dave Woods: "It might have been more but it was more than enough"
Neat first-half goals from Paul Scholes and Dwight Yorke sent United on the way to victory.

And simple strikes after the break from Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put the gloss on the scoreline that their performance deserved.

It was carnival time at Old Trafford, as United's conquering heroes were given a tumultuous welcome before their first home game since completing the Treble in Barcelona.

[ image: Dwight Yorke (left) directs the ball past Pavel Srnicek]
Dwight Yorke (left) directs the ball past Pavel Srnicek
And the contest had the air of a celebratory exhibition match, with Wednesday looking remarkably like a team who had been hand-picked to provide supine opposition.

United, always in total control, hardly had to hit top gear - choosing instead to stroll their way to the three points.

Wednesday simply had no answer to United's world class midfield and the visitors were out-played so comprehensively that their players looked like they wanted to go home long before half-time.

Owls manager Danny Wilson will be particularly concerned about the state of his defence, which was absent without leave for long periods of the match.

Perfect start

It did not take long for United to get the shock of Everton's late equaliser on Sunday out of their system - and with nine minutes on the clock they were ahead.

[ image: Emersom Thome's desperately tries to beat Andy Cole to the ball]
Emersom Thome's desperately tries to beat Andy Cole to the ball
Ryan Giggs, given too much room on the left flank by John Newsome, found it easy to play a routine cross into the path of Scholes, who swivelled and beat Pavel Srnicek with a rasping drive.

Scholes almost cancelled out all his good work, when he played a stray back pass into the path of Niclas Alexandersson, but the Swede was unable to keep his shot down.

But that aberration apart, the first half belonged totally to United.

Indeed, such was their dominance of proceedings, that for long periods Henning Berg abandoned his defensive duties and seemed to be operating as an extra striker.

Srnicek did well to keep out an acrobatic header from Berg and Andy Cole's close-range effort.

Only some sloppy finishing kept the score down. In a comical episode Berg, twice, and Cole somehow managed to miss the target from point-blank range, after Beckham's sweeping cross had left the Wednesday goal exposed.

But the second goal was not long in coming, as Yorke headed home Giggs' cross from a unmarked position.

Owls in generous mood

The second half continued in practice-match mode, with both crowd and players in subdued mood.

[ image: A delighted Paul Scholes takes the acclaim of the home faithful]
A delighted Paul Scholes takes the acclaim of the home faithful
Wednesday at least had chances, but Pettr Rudi and Benito Carbone were guilty of some lackadaisical finishing.

Ten minutes after the break the lapses looked even more costly, as substitute Teddy Sheringham's shot was diverted over the line by Cole.

Solskjaer then completed his party piece with a goal after coming off the bench.

The Norwegian, who had himself just seen a powerful shot hit both the bar and then the post, was on hand to finish off after Sheringham had struck the woodwork.


Man Utd: Bosnich, Neville, Irwin, Berg, Stam, Beckham, Scholes, Keane, Cole, Yorke, Giggs. Subs: Van Der Gouw, Sheringham, Butt, Curtis, Solskjaer.

Sheff Wed: Srnicek, Atherton, Hinchcliffe, Thome, Walker, Sonner, Sibon, Rudi, Alexandersson, Newsome, De Bilde. Subs: Pressman, Carbone, Cresswell, Briscoe, Haslam.

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham)

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