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Cleverley stunner caps United romp
Published : 07 Oct 2012 18:17:56
Sir Alex Ferguson's attacking 'gamble' paid off as his side moved up to second in the table, climbing above defending champions Manchester City to sit four points behind leaders Chelsea, after early goals from Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra - both opening their account for the season - paved the way to victory.
United were humbled 3-0 on their previous visit to Tyneside in January, but there was little danger of a repeat once they cruised into a deserved two-goal advantage early in the first half.
They had to withstand a spirited Newcastle fightback as the hosts eventually recovered from the shock of conceding twice in the first 15 minutes, and they were thankful to goalkeeper David De Gea, who produced a stunning save early in the second-half to deny Papiss Cisse, when a goal at that point would have altered the whole complexion of the contest.
Cleverley made the points safe when the England midfielder curled a spectacular effort into the top corner past goalkeeper Steve Harper.
Alan Pardew insisted shortly before kick-off that his United counterpart Ferguson had taken a gamble with the attacking nature of his line-up, Danny Welbeck spearheading a front five also boasting the talents of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Cleverley and the outstanding Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa.
Those words came back to haunt the Newcastle manager, who saw his side ripped apart as they suffered only a second defeat in 12 games this season.
Such was United's utter early dominance, the main surprise was that the visitors scored just twice as they dictated play for the opening half an hour.
They settled for two set-piece goals, the first arriving in the eighth minute. Defender Evans stole in between his markers Mike Williamson and Cisse to to head home van Persie's in-swinging corner from six yards despite Harper getting a hand to the powerful effort.
The lead was doubled eight minutes later, Newcastle again found wanting at a corner, this time swung in by Rooney.
Evra showed a speed of thought and deed lacking by his marker Demba Ba to steal in at the near post to connect with a close range header which left Harper with little chance as the Frenchman scored for the first time since November 2010.
The pressure continued almost relentlessly, and after the labouring Ba fouled Cleverley, Harper did well to claw away Rooney's 20-yard free-kick which was destined for the top corner.
Newcastle recovered from their awful start and finally began asking questions of Ferguson's side as the first-half wore on.
Jonas Guiterriez came closest to providing a way back, the Argentinian midfielder narrowly off target from the edge of the area after good work from Hatem Ben Arfa.
Newcastle enjoyed their best spell of pressure in the 15 minutes before the interval. Despite De Gea looking suspect to the aerial threat, the hosts were unable to take advantage of their dominance.
De Gea atoned for his first-half hesitancy with a stunning save immediately after the restart, denying Cisse's close-range follow-up header with a desperate stop on the line - replays suggested the ball hadn't fully crossed the line - after Ba's initial effort from a Shane Ferguson cross had bounced down off the bar.
United remained a danger, and Harper's hurried save prevented Rooney from stretching the lead after the England forward was given space to run into the area and fire off a shot from 15 yards.
The third eventually came in memorable style from Cleverley, who struck in the 71st minute with a sublime curler.