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Shots on target

United may have finished four goals clear but Newcastle more than matched them for goal attempts.

They actually shaded it 6-5 and will point to key saves from Peter Schmeichel as evidence that they weren't the also-rans the scoreline suggests.

There was no charity from the United keeper, who was at his best throughout.

However, the statistics illustrate the sharper cutting edge of United and the deficiencies in the Newcastle defence.

Kevin Keegan may have bought the world's best striker in Alan Shearer but he might rue his lack of investment in defence.

Moan of the match

The champions still have a hot-head streak that threatens to cast a shadow over their achievements.

Roy Keane was guilty in the first half - talking his way into the book after clearly fouling David Batty - and so was Eric Cantona in the second.

The United skipper should have gone after charging into a flare-up that was nothing to do with him and flooring Philippe Albert with a two-handed push in the back.

Boss Alex Ferguson will have been delighted with his team's display but will be well aware that some of his stars need to curb their fiery temperaments.

United are going to be too much for most this season - but unnecessary bookings may be one of their few problems.


Philippe Albert's 16th minute foul on Phil Neville was more mistimed than malicious, but ref Paul Durkin had the card out in an instant.

The challenge highlighted the unusually competitive edge of this Wembley curtain-raiser. Both squads realised that victory could have an important bearing on the outcome of the Premiership and were in no mood to hold back.

Roy Keane could have no complaints about his 40th minute caution after clattering David Batty, then complaining bitterly. And Cantona could count himself fortunate to stay on too.


If ever statistics can mislead, it's got to be the corner counts. Newcastle were soundly beaten despite a stirring fightback for half-an- hour in the second half.

Yet they won the corner tally with a bit to spare after clocking up nine to United's seven.

Newcastle clearly had a fair amount of possession but were woefully unable to turn it in into meaningful chances. And Kevin Keegan has a big task in turning his team of stars into a unit which can challenge for the title.

Keegan's team may well overwhelm some of the Premiership minnows but are clearly going to have to improve to compete with the likes of United.

However these are early days and once Shearer settles in , Newcastle will be formidable opponents.


All square at six-apiece and that reflects the level of commitment from both sides in a match that briefly threatened to boil over in the second half.

Referee Paul Durkin had to step in after a flashpoint when Eric Cantona flattened Philippe Albert with a shove from behind.

There was no real need for Cantona to get involved and it was his first real flash of temperament since the notorious night of the kung fu kick.

Maybe this was a warning sign that United's skipper hasn't completely curbed the fiery nature.

Otherwise he was impeccably behaved, but owed referee Durkin a large thanks for his charity.

Fans behaviour

Manchester United's contingent gave Alan Shearer the full treatment, as expected - after he snubbed them for Tyneside.

And one Newcastle fan flatly refused to leave the premises after trying to run on the pitch at half time.

But otherwise the noise, colour and spectacle created by both sets of supporters, particularly Newcastle's, added to the occasion.

Clearly the Premiership is going to be a colourful spectacle if this match is any guide.

This game, so unlike many dull Charity Shields in the past, was full of skill and movement and will whet every fan's appetite for the new season.

With great home-grown talent and superb overseas signings few crowds will be short-changed this season.

Judging by what went on at Wembley yesterday, the fans intend to enjoy every minute of it.

Move of the match

No contest - it had to be the wonder goal carved out by Eric Cantona and David Beckham and converted by Nicky Butt.

Showman Cantona's brilliant back-heel set it rolling, then Beckham drilled in a cross which the airborne Butt headed into the top corner.

It was the single most spectacular moment of a match in which the United side went through their full repertoire of skills.

With passing and movement like this, accompanied by deadly finishing, United are going to be difficult to live with this season.

The most impressive moment in this move was the superb cross by man-of-the-match Beckham, who added further to his already glowing reputation.

Man of the match

David Beckham just shaded Eric Cantona after providing more stunning evidence of his emergence as a real force.

The youngster laid on Cantona's opener, hit a pinpoint cross for Nicky Butt's second and coolly lobbed Pavel Srnicek for the third.

He was an absolute revelation and looks destined to become one of the next great United players. Beckham's virtuoso show was an illustration of the standards United have set for others.

The rest of the Premiership are going to have trouble living with them and Beckham - who's surely a future England star.........8

Referee rating

Paul Durkin always tried to keep the game flowing - never more so than when United went ahead in the 24th minute.

Twice played advantage in the build up to Eric Cantona's breakthrough goal, and that is refereeing at its best.

His only blemish was in letting Cantona off the hook with a yellow card in the Philippe Albert incident.

Maybe he was influenced by the dramatic improvement in Cantona's image since his suspension and the fact that he didn't want to ruin a great occasion by sending the Frenchman off.

However, strictly under the letter of the law, the Frenchman should have gone.

Saying all that, the official from Portland in Dorset still had a good match......................................7

Match rating

Eagerly-anticipated as the showdown between the two giants of the Premiership, but never really lived up to its billing.

Newcastle's poor first half showing ruined it as a contest and gave United the chance to wrap it up by half-time.

Second-half revival was too little, too late to save Kevin Keegan's team from a drubbing

Had Newcastle been able to match the extraordinary United it would have been a more compelling contest.

I'm sure the United fans must have revelled int their superiority and the quietness of Shearer, but it was never a contest....................................7

Donkey of the match

Pavel Srnicek made an awful hash of a simple backpass from full- back John Beresford near the end.

The Newcastle No.1 took his eye off the ball and almost paid the penalty as it rolled past him and bobbled close to the far post.

To make matters worse, United's fourth goal - a 20 yard drive from Roy Keane - flew straight through his hands.

He was preferred to Shaka Hislop, those later blemishes will have posed a huge question mark over whether Keegan has a goalkeeper of Premiership quality.



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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 12, 1996
Next Article:No Uwe, Souey!

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