Manchester United kicked off their Premier League campaign with a comfortable victory over newly-promoted Newcastle United at Old Trafford, courtesy of first-half goals by Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Fletcher before Ryan Giggs added a late third.
The Red Devils began the game with Berbatov partnering Wayne Rooney up front, with new signings Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling on the bench and no room at all in the squad for former Magpie Michael Owen.
The visitors, meanwhile, started with a five-man midfield, a lone striker in the shape of Andy Carroll whilst also handing a Newcastle debut to new signing James Perch at right back.
Yet Newcastle began the game well and had the best chance of the opening exchanges on the 10 minute mark. A corner in from Joey Barton found Carroll, completely free having lost his marker, but the striker conspired to head wide from six yards.
It was to prove a costly miss for the visitors as after an indifferent start, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men slowly took control of the match and opening the scoring just after the half hour mark.
Antonio Valencia poached the ball from Jonas Guterriez and found Paul Scholes who slid a perfectly weighted ball into the box for Berbatov to smash low, back across goal and beat Steve Harper.
The goal was all the encouragement the home side needed and less than 10 minutes later they doubled their lead thanks to Darren Fletcher.
Some good work down the left found Nani sliding in Patrice Evra who drove a ball across the box; Rooney managed to get a touch but couldn’t control it however the ball fell perfectly to the Scot to slot home from close range.
he second half began in much the same fashion, with the home side content to dictate proceedings and Paul Scholes at the heart of everything for Manchester United.
After picking up a customary booking for a late challenge on Nolan, the midfielder had a claim for a penalty after swapping passes with Berbatov before taking a tumble after contact with Coloccini yet referee Chris Foy waved his appeals away.
Seconds later the 35-year-old was involved again finding Rooney on the edge of the box, who dinked in a ball to Berbatov. The Bulgarian just had Harper to beat but slid his shot just wide of the post with the outside of this boot.
Yet Newcastle held firm, and even though Rooney put the ball in the back of the net on the hour mark, it was ruled out, harshly according to replays, for an offside earlier in the move.
That was to be the English striker’s last contribution of the game with Ferguson opting to change things, replacing him with Hernandez who received a rapturous applause from the Old Trafford faithful for his home debut.
However, the substitution did little to alter the flow of the game with chances continuing to come for Nani and Berbatov, yet it was another substitute, Ryan Giggs who was to add further gloss to the scoreline.
Again Scholes was the creator lofting the ball into the Welshman who volleyed it into the far corner to seal a convincing victory for the home team who travel to Fulham next, a ground on which they have struggled in recent seasons.