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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008, 19:13 GMT
Newcastle 1-5 Man Utd
By Saj Chowdhury

Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney
Ronaldo and Rooney were sublime at St James' Park
Two goals each from Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney helped Manchester United beat Newcastle and close the gap on leaders Arsenal to three points.

Wayne Rooney opened the scoring when he volleyed in Cristiano Ronaldo's cross at the far post before the supplier slotted in from Michael Carrick's pass.

Ronaldo rounded Steve Harper for his second but Newcastle reduced the deficit when Abdoulaye Faye poked in.

Rooney curled in the fourth before Louis Saha slotted in late on.


The win puts Sir Alex Ferguson's side firmly back in the hunt for the title following Arsenal's draw at Birmingham, while the defeat leaves Newcastle just six points above the relegation zone.

What will not help manager Kevin Keegan's cause is that the team have not won in 10 games and have only scored three goals in six games since his arrival, conceding 16.

Following their 6-0 drubbing at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture last month, Newcastle were keen to avoid another embarrassment.

And for the first 24 minutes, Newcastle's defence coped well and the midfield worked tirelessly to keep the impish Ronaldo and Nani at bay with some juicy tackles.

But one of the problems for the Magpies this season is the frequent lapses of concentration and for United's first goal, left-back Charles N'Zogbia was the guilty figure, allowing Rooney to steal in front of him and tuck away Ronaldo's peach of a ball at the far post.

With the seal broken and Newcastle beginning to look typically ragged, the Old Trafford side pinged the ball about from wing to wing with carefree supremacy, while Carrick in the middle was quick to seize on loose balls from the Newcastle midfield.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo slots in his first past Given
It was Wallsend-born Carrick who set up the second goal when his surge and well-weighted pass found the eager Ronaldo, who slotted his shot under Given and into the corner.

Ferguson's side should have added two more in the first half, but Carlos Tevez headed over from six yards after he was first to Nani's right-wing delivery, while Ronaldo screwed his 10-yard angled shot wide.

Newcastle did not unleash their first shot in anger until after the interval when Damien Duff twisted inside the area and fired a low drive that Edwin van der Sar had to punch away.

Had the hosts scored then the game might have taken on a different look. Instead, the visitors once again exploited the Magpies frailties to extend their advantage.

Abdoulaye Faye, back from Africa Nations Cup duty, misplaced a pass and the ball found its way to Ronaldo who motored his way towards goal.

The Portugal international fended off a foolish attempt at a tackle from Steven Taylor before rounding Harper, who came on for the injured Given at half-time, for his fifth goal against the Magpies in two matches.

Faye pulled one back for the hosts after smashing in substitute Andy Carroll's nod down from a corner, but that only angered the visitors who scored a fourth when Rooney curled in a beautiful shot from the edge of the area.

And seconds before the final whistle there was time for ex-Magpie Saha to find the net with a low shot from Rooney's square ball.

  • Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan:
    "Confidence is very low. We need a win, just to get the club moving forward again, it's been a long time.

    "It gets to the players and everyone and takes confidence away. We've got a fight on but I believe in them.

    "We need 40 points (to avoid relegation) this year, and we have got 28. Anybody who has not got 40 points can be relegated - and in the past, teams with 42, 43 have."

  • Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson:
    "The match was decided by the front players, they were just magnificent. It was a good performance and we could have scored more goals.

    "They all did really well - Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo got two each, but the movement of Carlos Tevez and Nani contributed to that.

    "Newcastle is a volatile place to come, but we managed to quieten them down."

    Newcastle: Given (Harper 46), Beye, Taylor, Faye, N'Zogbia, Milner (Geremi 84), Butt, Barton (Carroll 61), Duff, Smith, Owen.
    Subs Not Used: Cacapa, Ameobi.

    Booked: N'Zogbia, Faye, Owen, Butt.

    Goals: Faye 79.

    Man Utd: Van der Sar, Brown, Vidic (Scholes 74), Ferdinand, Evra (O'Shea 46), Ronaldo (Saha 67), Carrick, Fletcher, Nani, Rooney, Tevez.
    Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Anderson.

    Goals: Rooney 25, Ronaldo 45, 56, Rooney 80, Saha 90.

    Att: 52,291

    Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo 8.77 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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