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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 21:56 GMT
Rampant Man Utd march on
Paul Scholes celebrates his second goal with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Mikael Silvestre looks on
Scholes scored two goals for Man Utd
Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle
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Manchester United recorded their sixth straight Premiership win to quash any lingering doubts about their title credentials.

The reigning champions were written off by manager Sir Alex Ferguson a month ago, but outplayed Newcastle at Old Trafford to go second in the table.

Two goals from the rejuvenated Paul Scholes and yet another strike from the prolific Ruud van Nistelrooy gave the home side a deserved win.

  Goal details
24 mins: Van Nistelrooy heads in unmarked to give Man Utd the lead
50 mins: Scholes shoots first-time past Given to extend the lead
62 mins: Keane squares along the six-yard box for Scholes to slot in
69 mins: Shearer pulls one back with a powerful header

Newcastle rallied late on when Alan Shearer pulled a goal back in the 69th minute, but in truth the game was already over as a contest by then.

Ferguson sprung a major surprise when he started with England captain David Beckham on the bench.

With Ryan Giggs out with a hamstring strain, Nicky Butt, Roy Keane, Juan Veron and Scholes made up a midfield that lacked width.

But the ploy worked. The home side outplayed their visitors in the middle of the park and created the better chances.

Manchester United's David Beckham
Beckham was left on the bench

Van Nistelrooy served notice of his threat early on when he received the ball 40 yards out, turned sharply and powered forward before unleashing a venomous 25-yard shot that Given turned round his post.

The Newcastle defence did not take heed of the warning.

Midway through the half Mikael Silvestre overlapped down the left and crossed for Van Nistelrooy to head, unmarked, into the roof of the net from six yards.

But Newcastle still posed a threat on the break and had a goal controversially disallowed shortly before the interval.

Our concentration levels are better, we've had a settled back four and the whole team have gelled better
Roy Keane
Man Utd captain

Robbie Elliott crossed for Nolberto Solano and the Peruvian steered a header past Fabien Barthez from eight yards but was adjudged to have fouled Silvestre before doing so.

Scholes struck soon after the interval, however, to put Manchester United in control.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer played a delightful pass to the England international, who swept a first-time shot past Shay Given.

It was his 50th goal for United and his side's 50th of the season.

Scholes added another soon after as the home side threatened to run riot.

Solskjaer played in Keane, who powered into the area and rolled the ball along the six-yard box for Scholes to tap in.

Shearer pulled one back with 20 minutes to go to spark a late fightback from the visitors.

He rose above Gary Neville to powerfully head an Elliott cross home.

Man Utd: Barthez, Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Blanc, Silvestre, Scholes, Veron, Keane, Butt, Solskjaer (Beckham 85), van Nistelrooy (Yorke 66). Subs Not Used: Carroll, O'Shea, Irwin.

Booked: Solskjaer.

Newcastle: Given, Hughes, Distin, Dabizas, Elliott, Dyer, Lee, Solano (Bernard 81), Speed, Bellamy (Ameobi 81), Shearer. Subs Not Used: O'Brien, Harper, Lua-Lua.

Booked: Solano

Att: 67,646

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough).

BBC Sport's Ron Jones
"Man Utd won with something to spare"
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"I would have liked us to dominate possession better"
Newcastle boss Bobby Robson
"We're still in it"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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