Manchester United recorded their biggest Premier League victory of the season with an emphatic win over the hapless Newcastle United at St James’ Park. Moyes’s men continue to boast the best away record in the league after goals from Juan Mata (2), Javier Hernandez and Adnan Januzaj helped the Red Devils to all three points.
With one eye on Wednesday’s season defining return leg in Munich, David Moyes made 8 changes and fielded and experimental line up. David De Gea, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Danny Welbeck were all rested with Wayne Rooney nursing a toe injury. Javier Hernandez led the line with Juan Mata operating in the central position behind the Mexican. Operating in his favoured No 10 role Mata turned in his best performance for United to date, dictating the attacking play and linking beautifully with Shinji Kagawa throughout.
Ashley Young went off with a hand injury early on and was replaced by Adnan Januzaj. United exercised a measure of control in the opening stages without really testing Elliot in the Newcastle goal. Anders Lindegaard, deputising for David DeGea, did well to tip Papiss Cisse’s looping header over the crossbar. United looked quick and fluid on the counter attack and had the lead in the 39th minute. Darren Fletcher, who turned in an impressive display in midfield completing more passes than anyone else on the pitch, was fouled on the edge of the area by Dan Gosling. Juan Mata curled the resulting free kick into the top corner in splendorous fashion before running to the bench to embrace his compatriot DeGea. United almost doubled their lead on the stroke of half time when Kagawa slid Hernandez through on goal, his shot beating Elliot but finding the foot of the post.
The champions got off to the perfect start in the second half, another counter attack saw Hernandez break down the right, lifting his head up to pick out Mata’s run who kept his cool and once again beat Elliot with a tidy finish. Lindegaard was again called into duty in the second half twice denying Cisse with good saves. There was a great tempo to United’s attack with Mata, Kagawa and Januzaj providing real dynamism behind Hernandez showcased perfectly by their third goal. Januzaj found Kagawa with a beautifully weighted ball, the Japanese playmaker reached the bye line before cutting back for Hernandez who finished in typical predatory fashion. The remaining half an hour proved to be a canter to the finish line and Juan Mata rounded off his man of the match display when he sublimely assisted Januzaj with a backheel, the irrepressible winger making no mistake with a slotted finish in added time.
David Moyes had plenty to smile about at full time ahead of the trip to Munich. He will be particularly pleased with the classy performance of Mata who made a strong case to be a regular starter behind the centre forward. The conundrum for the boss now is how to best utilise a fully fit Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Mata in a starting XI. The remaining Premier League fixtures may provide an opportunity to try out a couple of different combinations as the planning for next season begins.