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Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle: Reds cruise past poor Toon

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Newcastle United didn't offer much of a threat as Manchester United coasted past the Magpies, with Wayne Rooney netting a brace of fine goals and providing an assist.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester United put in their best performance in some time in beating Newcastle United 3-1 at Old Trafford, although their opponents didn't offer too much of a challenge.

Wayne Rooney was the star, finishing off two excellent goals and providing an assist for a third from Robin van Persie, as Newcastle's defence proved unable to cope with United's attacking forces.

Things could have been slightly different however as Alan Pardew's men got off to a decent start, harrying United in the opening 20 minutes and seeing a clear penalty turned down.

Yet it wasn't long before United took control of the game, and when Newcastle committed players forward but lost the ball through Adam Armstrong, United pounced, with Juan Mata's dinked ball finding Falcao, who cut it back across goal for Rooney to tap into the net and complete a fine counter-attack.

It wasn't too long before Rooney made it 2-0 either, with more poor Newcastle defending punished with an excellent pass from Mata to Rooney, who finished very smartly past Jak Alnwick at the near post.

United could have had more before half-time, but Robin van Persie couldn't quite connect with his volley, although chances were still coming as a result of a complete lack of attention being paid to Mata and Rooney in midfield, who were free to create at will.

Not too long after the break, Van Persie made it 2-0, with a simple finish nodding Rooney's excellent ball past Alnwick at close range.

It was a dominant display by United, although with Tottenham coming up, they took their foot off the accelerator rather than go for more goals against a shaky-looking Newcastle. The visitors did pull one back late on after Phil Jones foolishly brought down Jack Colback, and Papiss Cisse blasted an unstoppable penalty into the top corner to make it 3-1, but it was far too late to seriously worry the capacity crowd at Old Trafford.

So, was the performance marred by how bad the opposition were? Yes and no. This was, after all, a confident performance, and given some of the displays in the past few weeks that can only be a good thing. More of the same from the likes of Mata on a more consistent basis, however, would be most welcome.