United give Magpies Premier League reality check

MANCHESTER, England, Aug 16, 2010 (AFP) - Dimitar Berbatov, Darren Fletcher and Ryan Giggs scored as Manchester United began their Premier League campaign with a 3-0 win over Newcastle here on Monday giving the losers a sharp reminder of the gulf in class between the Championship and the elite league.

Berbatov celebrates after scoring the opening goal on August 16, 2010. AFP PHOTO

United had a comfortable advantage over last season's Championship winners by half time even though it proved to be another frustrating night for Wayne Rooney, who remains goalless for club and country since scoring against Bayern Munich in a Champions League match in March.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was especially impressed by veteran midfielder Paul Scholes and delighted with the result against what he termed a tough outfit.

"They got into the Premier League last season by being a determined and a good unit with a good work ethic," said Ferguson.

"We were wasteful with some chances. Dimitar Berbatov could have scored three or four, but his performance was excellent. The three points is always important in your first home match. It was a steady performance."

Berbatov finished off a fine move with just over half an hour gone before Fletcher's close-range effort made it two at the interval.

And substitute Giggs extended the advantage with a third goal with five minutes remaining maintaining his extraordinary record of having scored in all 19 seasons he has played in the top flight.

Chelsea ended United's run of three successive Premier League titles with their victory last season but began their attempts to win the crown for a record 19th time in some style.

Newcastle's survival chances will never be judged on trips to Old Trafford but they showed they are well-organised and Andy Carroll looks like he might manage the step up to the top flight.

They began by managing to contain their hosts and Rooney's hopeful curled effort as the only occasion that the Old Trafford side threatened in the early stages.

And the newly-promoted side should have taken the lead when Carroll met Joey Barton's corner unmarked from six yards but glanced his header wide.

Nani had a long-range effort deflected wide and then thumped a free kick into the wall as the home side's frustration continued.

Carroll went close again with a 25-yard drive that was held by goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

Even when James Perch and Mike Williamson were guilty of slack clearances, Nani failed to take advantage for United.

But the Portuguese did force a scrambling punch from Steve Harper with a lofted cross to the far post for Berbatov.

And Rooney also lifted a shot over the bar after Berbatov headed down Antonio Valencia's cross.

But just after the half hour, the home team grabbed the lead when Valencia robbed Jonas Gutierrez in midfield, and John O'Shea fed Scholes, who slid through for Berbatov to find the corner of the net.

Barton tested van der Sar once again with a powerful strike to the near post.

But United doubled their lead before the interval thanks to fine work by Patrice Evra.

The French defender burst into the area and his low cross had too much on it for Rooney, but Fletcher fired in on the turn.

Two of the home team's veterans combined to put the game well beyond Newcastle.

A short corner was worked in-field and Scholes picked out Giggs, who found the corner with a placed volley.

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