Red Devils cruise into final
By Mark Kendall. Last Updated: 17/04/05 1:58pm
Manchester United booked an FA Cup final showdown with Arsenal after a 4-1 demolition of Newcastle at The Millennium Stadium on Sunday.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side were in control from the first whistle and a 2-0 scoreline at half time - courtesy of goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Paul Scholes - barely did them justice.
Although a Shola Ameobi strike briefly threatened to make a contest of it after van Nistelrooy had added his second, Cristiano Ronaldo killed the contest 14 minutes from time to condemn Newcastle to their second cup exit of the week.
It was the United from Old Trafford who were far quicker from the traps, and as early as the third minute van Nistelrooy spun Jean-Alain Boumsong on the edge of the box and forced a smart save from Shay Given with a curling shot.
On six minutes United seemed set to profit from their early dominance when referee Mike Riley appeared to have awarded them a penalty. The official looked to have pointed to the spot after Cristiano Ronaldo fell theatrically under challenge from Steven Taylor, but infact Riley chose to caution the Portuguese winger - a decision vindicated by replays which showed little contact and the fact the incident took place narrowly outside the box.
However, United were not to be denied and following wave after wave of attacks broke through on 19 minutes. The goal owed much to a slip from Boumsong which was unfortunate given the Frenchman had been hugely impressive in keeping the scores level up to that point.
Ronaldo skipped easily past Celestine Babayaro and his centre was allowed to reach van Nistelrooy who directed the ball into the bottom corner on the turn for his first goal since November.
Things nearly got worse for Newcastle just before the half hour mark. Shay Given made an ill-advised rush from his box to claim a ball which ran invitingly to Gabriel Heinze, and the keeper was hopelessly out of position when the Argentine whipped in a cross, and was relieved to see Quniton Fortune fire narrowly over.
Given then caused a few more flutters amongst the Newcastle fans when he allowed a long-range pile driver from Wayne Rooney to squirm through his grasp, but the ball spun narrowly wide for a corner.
It was not until five minutes before the break that Newcastle finally threatened as an attacking force. Alan Shearer flung himself at Laurent Robert's free kick from the left but could not direct an effort on target and ended up needing medical attention after receiving a boot to his head from Rio Ferdinand in trying to make the header.
The scoreline was then given a truer reflection of United's dominance just before the half-time whistle. Ronaldo was once again given time to pick out a cross from the right, and Scholes timed his run perfectly to nip in front of Boumsong at the near post and angle a glancing header past Given.
After what one can only assume was a half time tongue-lashing from Graeme Souness, Newcastle started the second period in more urgent fashion and drove forward in search of a way back into the game.
Ameobi demanded a penalty after going down under challenge from Ferdinand in the box but was given short shrift from Riley despite his protests.
A Robert free kick from the right seemed to present The Magpies with a good opportunity to reduce the arrears, but United cleared and launched a rapier counter through Ronaldo and Rooney which culminated in van Nistelrooy putting the latter's inch-perfect far-post cross just wide of Given's upright.
The reprieve was, though, only temporary. After a mis-placed pass from the ineffective Nicky Butt, United swarmed forward again and, after Rooney had opened up the Newcastle backline, Scholes fed van Nistelrooy who had time aplenty to slot past Given.
However, with the outcome seemingly beyond doubt, Newcastle responded instantly to bring their fans back to life.
Shearer showed good strength and played in Ameobi who made light work of a narrowing angle to fire through Tim Howard's legs and into the bottom corner.
As Souness's men pushed forward in search of another they were inevitably exposed at the back, and Given had to be alert to tip a cute van Nistelrooy chip over the bar, and then beat out a fierce Scholes free kick.
He was powerless to prevent Ronaldo on 76 minutes, though, as United finally put the game to bed. In truth it was too easy for United as van Nistelrooy helped a Neville cross to Ronaldo who calmly stroked past Given with a Newcastle challenge nowhere to be seen.
Although there was token resistance from Newcastle in the closing stages, Souness's face displayed the reality of another season of disappointment, while his counterpart Ferguson will already be relishing the chance to lock horns with arch rival Arsene Wenger next month.
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|Newcastle United||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|2||Shots on Target||10|
|5||Shots off Target||5|