MANCHESTER, August 17 – 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.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.
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 made 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 Sir Alex Ferguson’s side 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 Paul 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.
Carroll tried his luck again from distance shortly after the restart but failed to worry van der Sar.
Rooney showed composure to attempt to pick out Nani when he might have had a shot and the England forward’s flick also sent Berbatov through but the Bulgarian’s clipped effort dropped wide of the post.
Carroll failed to hit the target yet again when he was picked out by Jose Enrique’s cross whilst Rooney was replaced by Mexican youngster Javier Hernandez just after the hour before Berbatov failed to add a third with a adventurous volley.
But 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.