Paul Scholes inspired Manchester United to a 3-0 win over Newcastle United as Sir Alex Ferguson's side brushed aside last season's Championship winners at Old Trafford last night.
Dimitar Berbatov, Darren Fletcher and the substitute Ryan Giggs scored the goals in a convincing performance from the home side. It was Scholes who was the outstanding performer, however, dictating the play from the midfield and playing a crucial role in two of the three goals.
Responding to champions Chelsea's 6-0 thrashing of West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, Alex Ferguson's side were a class above Newcastle who faded away after a bright start.
Darren Fletcher's close-range poke home had effectively ended the match as a contest shortly before half-time and United, runners-up to Chelsea last season, spent the second period toying with their overawed opponents.
Scholes said afterwards that it was the sort of performance that United had been looking for. "The most important thing in the first game is to win and even though we could have scored more we'll take that," he said. "We didn't start too well, but when we scored we were a constant threat after that and moved them around quite a lot." Scholes said afterwards that more was to come from United. "We're still finding our feet," he said. "We've had a lot of players away and it can only get better from here for us."
United's success last night was built on waiting for gaps to appear in the Newcastle defence, he said. "We had to be patient and keep the ball," he said. "It took a fantastic goal to break the deadlock."
Scholes said that he was enjoying his football as much as he ever had at the age of 35. If his performance was impressive, though, equally so was Giggs'. The Welshman is into his 21st professional season and his goal last night meant that he has scored in every one of them. It is a remarkable record by anyone's standards.
Scholes, typically modest, played down his contribution afterwards. "I'm just happy to get in the team," he said. "I really enjoy playing in this team. Tonight we felt we were going to score every time we got forward."
For Newcastle there is no such positivity although they will face few such difficult away trips this season. Having been out of the Premier League for a season, though, they now know the size of the challenge that awaits them.