Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Business As Usual: Clean Sheet

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3 nil
Scorer: Berbatov (33)
Scorer: Fletcher (41)
Scorer: Giggs (85)

Dimitar Berbatov sent Manchester United on their way to a comfortable win over Newcastle United as the Red Devils began their Barclays Premier League campaign in style.

Berbatov took full advantage of a probing through-ball from Paul Scholes to break the Magpies defences in the 33rd minute.

'Joey Barton says he won't lose the moustache until Newcastle win. Hence, for the next few months, he will be known as Andriy Aren'tshavin'


The Bulgarian might have had more but once Darren Fletcher had doubled the hosts' lead before the break, it was left to substitute Ryan Giggs to add the gloss with an excellent late volley.

Newcastle made a confident start, with highly-rated striker Andy Carroll well to the fore.

Nemanja Vidic accidentally caught Magpies skipper Kevin Nolan on the back of his head as the pair challenged for an aerial ball.

John O'Shea was unable to steer a header into Berbatov's path after some impressive approach play involving Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney.

A neat backheeled return pass from Nani offered Rooney the chance to curl a shot goalwards but his effort was off target.

In between, Wayne Routledge had been forced to use his right foot to try and pick out Andy Carroll at the far post when his left might have brought some reward.

Carroll did get on the end of Joey Barton's corner though and, after losing Vidic, he should really have done much better than head tamely wide.

SCORE AGAIN
Nani's shot was deflected wide as the game began to open out and Smith flung himself in the way of John O'Shea's piledriver after the Irishman had been invited to shoot by Antonio Valencia.

Smith sent Paul Scholes flying as the veteran midfielder tried to carve out another opportunity, but Nani's free-kick was a disappointing one, straight into the Newcastle wall.

Carroll brought a decent low save out of Edwin van der Sar, then Barton chopped down Nani to earn the game's first booking.

An intricate free-kick move ended up with the ball at Rooney's feet, although the striker's wait for his first goal since March continued as he dragged his shot wide.

Michael Williamson rescued himself with an excellent tackle to rob Nani after he had been played into trouble by Fabricio Coloccini.

Rooney must have been thinking he would never score again when Berbatov's nod-back offered him the chance to strike a close-range volley, albeit with the ball bouncing behind him, but he skied it harmlessly over.

Berbatov soon showed him how it was done after Valencia chased back unselfishly to set an attack in motion that ended with Enrique nudging Scholes' pass on to the Bulgarian, who steadied himself and then drilled into the far corner from an acute angle.

Nani gifted Barton possession on the edge of the United box but the midfielder went for goal himself rather than attempt to pick out better placed team-mates and Van der Sar made a comfortable save.

It proved to be a costly error as four minutes before the break, United grabbed their second.

QUICK FEET
Nani sent Patrice Evra racing into the box and although Rooney could not control the Frenchman's low cross, he did prod the ball into the path of Darren Fletcher, who turned Coloccini on the edge of the six-yard box and found the net with a smart finish.

Harper came out to collect Nani's cross at the feet of Rooney as the hosts began the second period looking for more goals.

Nani was eager to make an impression personally and his quick feet allowed him to get away from Williamson but he ran down a cul-de-sac and Enrique drew a free-kick in the winger's desperation not to lose possession.

Scholes could easily have had a penalty when he fell under Coloccini's challenge just inside the box then Rooney opted to try and find Berbatov rather than go for goal on his own, which hinted at a lack of confidence as he picked out Perch instead.

There was nothing wrong with his first-time lay-off of a fierce Scholes pass that put Berbatov clean through.

The Bulgarian beat an advancing Harper, but also the far post.

Another sublime pass from Scholes, this time over the top of Newcastle's static defence, set up Berbatov but the striker's acrobatic volley ended up nearer the corner flag than the goal.

Giggs then found Berbatov with a brilliantly disguised pass, although Harper got in the way of an improvised cross before Hernandez and Valencia could pounce.

Newcastle had enough possession to remain interested without pressurising Van der Sar, as Shola Ameobi proved as he sent a far-post header wide.

United were dominant and with six minutes remaining, Scholes picked out substitute Giggs who found the far right corner with his first-time volley.

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