Two goals from captain Wayne Rooney helped Manchester United consolidate third place ahead of Sunday’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur with a comfortable 3-1 win over Newcastle.
Robin van Persie scored the third as Louis van Gaal’s men dominated from start to finish, Papiss Cisse’s late penalty the only blemish as United extended their unbeaten run to eight games.
Rooney, 29, also grabbed an assist as he starred from a midfield position reminiscent of Reds legend Paul Scholes.
“It’s a role that I’ve played many times and I know I can play,” the England captain told MUTV.
“As Paul [Scholes] did many times over his career, he could see the ball when it was wide and see the space and run into it – I did that today with my two goals.
“It’s nice to win, nice to score goals and I’m delighted with the performance.”
United have now won 18 of their last 19 Boxing Day fixtures including the previous 11 at Old Trafford and sit four points ahead of fifth-placed West Ham.
After a diabolical start to the season, they are now guaranteed a top four place at the season’s half-way point, and Van Gaal is delighted with their recent form.
“It is a fantastic Christmas for us; we have dominated the game for 90 minutes and scored fantastic goals. We should have scored many more,” the Dutch boss told MUTV.
“The first-half was the better; during the second, we were already thinking of the match against Tottenham but I am very pleased with the performance today.”
Victory over Spurs would leave United just seven points behind leaders Chelsea and Rooney is optimistic that the club could have a say in this year’s title race.
“We’ve chased leads down before over a big number of points,” added Rooney.
“Anything can happen, especially over the next week or two.
“There are a lot of games and if we can come out of these games the right side with the right results then we’ll be in a good position.”
Rooney scored twice at White Hart Lane last season and would move to within five goals of Andy Cole on the all-time Premier League list if he were to find the net on Sunday lunchtime.
However, United have not beaten Tottenham in their previous four league meetings and are likely to be without Angel Di Maria, who suffered a pelvic injury against Newcastle.
Main image courtesy of Sky Sports via YouTube, with thanks.