By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At the Sports Direct Arena
Newcastle United 3 (Ba 33, Cabaye 47, Jones og 90)
Manchester United 0
Newcastle United's 2012 got off to the best possible start with a memorable 3-0 home victory over Manchester United on Wednesday night.
It was the Magpies' first victory over the Red Devils since September 2001, and it was fully deserved as they dominated proceedings at the Sports Direct Arena, with Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye finding the back of the net before a Phil Jones own goal completed the scoring.
Ba broke the deadlock with his 15th goal of the season when he latched on to Shola Ameobi's flick and fired first time past Red Devils keeper Anders Lindegaard just past the half-hour mark.
And almost straight after the interval, Cabaye netted a stunning free-kick to give the hosts some breathing space which they were to never surrender. Ryan Taylor, Cheick Tiote and Shola Ameobi all threatened before Jones nodded past his own keeper with the clock ticking away.
Newcastle started brightly and got their first sniff of goal in the fourth minute. Cheick Tiote showed good strength to win the ball in the middle of the park and spread it wide to Taylor, who in turn found Danny Simpson overlapping.
The full-back delivered into the area but, unusually, Ba didn't get a strike on target - connecting with a tricky first time shot, but failing to hit the target.
The hosts continued to press and both Cabaye and Tiote forced visiting keeper Lindegaard into low saves from their long-range efforts.
It took 11 minutes fo Manchester United to make an impression at the other end - Tim Krul parrying a 20-yard Nani shot and pouncing on the bouncing rebound before Wayne Rooney could take advantage.
The champions were finding their feet and striker Dimitar Berbatov nodded Patrice Evra's cross against the foot of the post with the aid of a slight deflection, while Rooney fired a free-kick into the wall and behind for a corner.
Newcastle refused to lie down though and on 27 minutes Shola Ameobi rose highest at the far post but was unable to keep his header down, after Tiote had swung in a deep delivery.
And they deservedly broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute. It wasn't the prettiest of goals, but it was perfectly executed.
Krul's long punt forward was flicked on by Ameobi and Ba hooked a volley over Rio Ferdinand's shoulder and past the despairing Lindegaard for his 15th of the season. It was defence turned into attack in the space of seconds, and the first time Lindegaard had picked the ball out of the back of the net in United colours.
The Magpies weren't content with just one though and went in search of a second which would extend their advantage even further. Ryan Taylor went closest a couple of minutes before the break, curling a free-kick narrowly over after Ba had been felled by Ryan Giggs 25 yards out.
There was always a danger that the half-time break could have killed Newcastle's momentum, but any fears of that were swiftly put to bed two minutes after the restart.
When Ba was hauled down 25 yards from goal, it gave the home side another shooting opportunity and Cabaye duly stepped up to curl a screamer over the wall and perfectly into the top left-hand corner, sending 50,000 Geordies crazy in the process.
Still Newcastle weren't done, and centre-back Mike Willamson nodded over from close range, but they suffered a lucky escape at the other end in the 59th minute.
Nani's low cross from the right was flicked on by substitute Danny Welbeck into the path of the unmarked Wayne Rooney, who stabbed past Krul for a certain way back into the contest. But birthday boy and former Manchester United man Danny Simpson was having none of that as he got back to clear off the line and keep the Magpies' two-goal lead in tact.
Understandably, Newcastle were forced to spend large chunks of the second half defending as the visitors threw caution to the strong Tyneside wind, and they introduced Javier Hernandez from the bench to increase their attacking options.
But an outstanding rearguard of Fabricio Coloccini and Co kept them at bay, and Dutch international stopper Krul was left with a fairly routine evening in which he had to deal with a couple of crosses but nothing more.
And, if it was ever in doubt, the result was put out of sight in the final minute. Krul's pumped a free-kick forward and Jones got into a terrible mess with Lindegaard, stooping and heading past his own keeper to compound Manchester United's misery.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Ryan Taylor, Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye (James Perch 78), Jonas Gutierrez; Shola Ameobi (Leon Best 75), Demba Ba (Gabriel Obertan 89)
Subs not used: Steve Harper, Haris Vuckic, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi
Manchester United (4-4-2): Anders Lindegaard; Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra (c); Nani, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-Sung (Javier Hernandez 66); Dimitar Berbatov (Danny Welbeck 57), Wayne Rooney (Anderson 75)
Subs not used: David De Gea, Rafael Da Silva, Jess Lingard, Paul Pogba
Referee: Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)
Attendance: 52,299 (3098 Manchester United)
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