Cristiano Ronaldo News

Monday, October 02, 2006

Report: United 2 Newcastle 0

01/10/2006 15:50, Report by Ben Hibbs

Inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo and armed with two goals from Ole Gunner Solskjaer, the Reds returned to winning ways in the Premiership with a comfortable 2-0 victory over a Newcastle side that rarely threatened to deny United all three points.

After a draw with Reading and defeat to Arsenal, Sir Alex’s side had taken just one points from a possible six in the last two outings, beating Newcastle was imperative. The Reds achieved their goal with ease, returning to the top of the Premiership above Chelsea on goal difference.

Sir Alex made two changes from the starting line-up that snatched three points from Benfica on Tuesday; Darren Fletcher replacing John O’Shea in midfield and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer coming in for midweek match-winner Louis Saha up front.

Newcastle came with the intention of striking on the break. Glenn Roeder, his 4-5-1 formation spearheaded by Shola Ameobi as the lone striker, intended Damien Duff and James Milner support from the flanks. But, they rarely got the opportunity.

Nicky Butt, warmly welcomed by the home crowd, formed part of a tenacious trio alongside Emre and Scott Parker in midfield. He made his fifth appearance against United since leaving in summer 2004, but this was his first return to Old Trafford as an opponent. He played against the Reds twice in Birmingham’s colours and twice for Newcastle, all away from Manchester. But there would be no favours for old friends as the Reds sought to maintain a proud record against Newcastle under Sir Alex Ferguson, who has never lost to the Magpies at Old Trafford.

United found their rhythm early on. Magpies keeper Steve Harper twice charged off his line to prevent Wayne Rooney and then Solskjaer latching on to through-balls. The Newcastle stopper denied the Reds again after 18 minutes. Ronaldo earned a corner on the left and fired his cross towards Nemanja Vidic, whose thunderous header forced a superb reflex save.

Rooney, who has been putting extra training in search of form and fitness, was next to have a pop with 20 minutes on the clock. Receiving the ball from Michael Carrick, Rooney drilled his shot narrowly wide, although Harper appeared to have it covered. Five minutes later, United upped the ante. Steven Taylor took a blow full in the face to stop Rio Ferdinand’s volley. The frenzied attacking continued, with Fletcher hitting the post with a beautifully struck shot from 20 yards. The tempo and build up play couldn’t have been better performed, the killer touch was all that was missing.

Unfortunately, Gabriel Heinze was forced off with what appeared to be an ankle injury 15 minutes before half time. Patrice Evra came on to replace the Argentine, but the break in play coincided with a lull in the pace of United’s play.

The breakthrough, a deserved one at that, came five minutes before half time. A short corner with Evra allowed Ronaldo, a menace all afternoon, to run across the edge of the box and crash a shot against the post. This time, though, Newcastle would not escape unpunished. Solskjaer, alert and lively, was of quick mind and feet, meeting the rebounded effort with a side-footed finish to make it 1-0.

And, if the Norwegian’s goal just before the break was down to his intuitive striker’s instinct to be in the right place at the right time, his second, three minutes after the restart, bore the hallmarks of good fortune all poachers possess. Making a run into space, Ole got in the way of Vidic’s shot from the edge of the area and the ball deflected in off his heels.

United were rampant. Fletcher forced a save low to his right from Harper, Ronaldo followed up the rebound with a shot from close range that skimmed the crossbar. Unperturbed by his miss, the 21-year-old led the charge again, jinking his way into space before his shot through Stephen Carr’s legs hit the post.

It was merely a matter of how many United would score; Newcastle had succumbed to stemming the flow of wave after wave of attacks.

Newcastle introduced Obafemi Martins, but it made little impact as Ronaldo continued to run riot cutting inside from the left. After 65 minutes he went close again, lashing his shot just wide. Fletcher, hugely impressive on the right, had a strong penalty shout turned down five minutes later. Steven Taylor used his arm to stop the Scot’s shot from just inside the box, but the scores remained 2-0.

Scholes and Solskjaer went close late on, but with Newcastle out of ideas and, seemingly, the inclination to save the match, United sauntered to victory.

Team Line-ups

United: Van der Sar, Neville (c), Ferdinand, Vidic, Heinze (Evra, 31), Fletcher, Scholes, Carrick, Ronaldo, Rooney, Solskjaer.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, Brown, Saha,O’Shea.

Goalscorers: Solskjaer (40, 48),

Newcastle: Harper, Carr, Taylor, Moore, Ramage, Milner (N’Zogbia, 46), Butt (Martins, 63), Parker (c), Emre (Pattison, 68), Duff, Ameobi.
Subs not used: Tim Krul (GK), Luque.

Attendance: 75,664


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