Juan Mata ran the show as Manchester United scored four goals for the second week running and cruised to a 4–0 victory over Newcastle United at St. James Park on Saturday afternoon. Mata scored two goals himself, and was complemented in his offensive efforts by the oft-ignored combination of Shinji Kagawa and Javier Hernandez. Overcoming a tedious first half in which Mata's stunning free kick was the solitary moment of sheer brilliance, the visitors scored three times from the run of play in the second half to turn a tight game into an all-too-easy victory over the struggling home side.
Defensively, Anders Lindegaard did well to gain a shut out in his first League action of the season, denying Newcastle striker Papis Cisse on three separate occasions, and Phil Jones and Chris Smalling did just enough to keep Newcastle's other players off kilter despite a few shaky moments. The victory kept the Reds' small burst of momentum alive heading into the mid-week Champions League clash in Munich, although in retrospect the game will be viewed as relatively meaningless for both sides at this point in the season. Herewith the individual player ratings on a rare comfortable win:
Lindegaard: Did well to deny Cisse both before and after the break. 7.0
Valencia: Guilty of too many turnovers while playing out of position. 6.5
Jones: Needs to work on his distribution from the back, but generally a solid effort. 6.5
Smalling: Bedeviled by poor clearances. 6.5
Evra: Easily beaten, yet again. Rested near the hour mark. 6.0
Fletcher: Protected the back four well. 6.5
Fellaini: Most dirty players are loved by their own fans. Fellaini looks the odd exception. 5.0
Young: Decent crossing before being forced off after 15 minutes. N/A
Kagawa: Perfect lay off which Hernandez spurned before the break. A knowing header which led to the second goal and a perfect cut back for the third capped off a fine second half. 8.0
Hernandez: Looked pacey up top but clanged the post when he should have scored. Great assist for Mata's second and back to his trademark smiling best when he notched his side's third of the afternoon. 8.0
Januzaj (Young), 17: Still tries occasionally to do too much on his own, but oh, such a silky smooth finish for the afternoon's capper. 7.0
Büttner (Evra), 64: Not bad, but not at the same level as last week. 6.0
Nani (Fellaini), 70: An understandable whiff on his first opportunity in ages. 6.0
This is farlieonfootie for April 6.