Paul Scholes helped lift Manchester United to a 3-0 victory over Newcastle as the Red Devils began their campaign to reclaim the Premier League soccer title.
The 35-year-old midfielder, who has spent his entire career at Old Trafford, last night provided the assists for Dimitar Berbatov’s opener and the third goal by substitute Ryan Giggs.
“He’s got marvelous passing range and vision in the game and he’s still got the appetite to play,” United manager Alex Ferguson said in a televised interview. “Anyone who gets to that age and they retain that -- him and Ryan Giggs -- then you’ve got two players who are something special.”
United is seeking a record 19th English league title after Chelsea ended its three-year reign as Premier League champion in May. Chelsea opened the defense of its crown with a 6-0 rout of West Brom three days ago.
Scholes said patience was key to the victory over a Newcastle team that “defended deep” on its Premier League return after a season in England’s second-tier Championship.
“I don’t think we started too well in the first 20 to 25 minutes,” Scholes told Sky Sports. “We just had to be patient, try to keep the ball, keep them moving, draw them out. Once we got that first goal, we were a constant threat.”
Berbatov beat Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper with a low shot from the right edge of the six-yard box after taking Scholes’s pass in the 33rd minute.
Darren Fletcher made it 2-0 eight minutes later with a close-range shot on the turn off Patrice Evra’s drive across the face of the goal.
With five minutes remaining, Scholes chipped the ball to Giggs on the left edge of the penalty area and the Welshman directed his left-foot volley into the far corner.
The goal extended the 36-year-old Giggs’s record of being the only player to score in every Premier League season since the competition’s inception in 1992.
England striker Wayne Rooney played 63 minutes before being replaced by Javier Hernandez. Rooney has now failed to score for 14 straight games in all competitions stretching back to a 2-1 loss to Bayern Munich on March 30.
“We were a little bit wasteful with some of the chances,” Ferguson said. “Berbatov could have scored three or four, but his performance was excellent. The three points is always important in your first home match.”