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    Cristiano Ronaldo adds to Newcastle nightmare

    Running free: Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick at Old Trafford

    By James Mossop at Old Trafford

    12:01AM GMT 13 Jan 2008

    Manchester United (0) 6 Newcastle United (0) 0

    You Just cannot get enough of Cristiano Ronaldo. He was at it again yesterday, sweeping across the damp surface with the sublime footballing skills of a master showman.

    The crowd drooled, the visitors cowed and Ronaldo's hat-trick of goals in a second-half rout sent his United to the top of the Premier League with all the style of potential champions.

    All six goals came in the second half after Sir Alex Ferguson had sent out his players with instructions to be sharper with their passing and to stop trying to walk the ball into the net.

    They could have won deeply into double figures. Four times Newcastle cleared off the line, Wayne Rooney missed four chances before the match was 15 minutes old and for those loyal, noisy and frustrated Newcastle supporters it was all grim and hapless.

    To add to their misery Alan Smith, the former Old Trafford player, was sent off in the last minute for abusive or insulting language to one of the assistant referees.

    Newcastle, with neither a leader nor an idea, were miserable. They are in a mess; a club being run by pygmies of imagination. Nigel Pearson, left in charge after the hurried demise of Sam Allardyce, knows that any new manager needs time and that he, eventually, will be another on the road out of Tyneside.

    For the red half of Manchester there is only joy. They danced through Newcastle's defences in the first half but failed to score because it all seemed too easy.

    Then, once Ronaldo had put United in front after 49 minutes, Newcastle could only squirm. By the time Ronaldo had completed his hat-trick they looked absolutely demoralised.

    Ronaldo's goals took him to an astonishing 22 for the season - incredible for a wide player - and brought him his first Manchester United hat-trick. The 22-year-old said: "This is a very special day for me. It makes me feel very proud to score a hat-trick for this great club. I have scored in twos a few times, but this was special and I am absolutely delighted for the team."

    His manager glowed when he talked about the young man from the Portuguese island of Madeira. He said: "His hat-trick was always coming and this one capped a fine display. I am delighted for him. He is still a young lad who is improving and always producing. His decision-making is getting better all the time."

    It was hard to imagine the scene in the Newcastle dressing room. Silent misery, probably. Nothing to say to each other. No one blameless, Smith in disgrace.

    Pearson emerged to say: "We have got to move quickly to get this situation resolved. It has been a very difficult day. They were much better than us, but the way we folded was difficult to take."

    Fold they did and although they held on until half-time there was never any doubt about the outcome. All those chances that United squandered in the first half were converted in the second 45 minutes.

    Ronaldo started it when he picked himself up after being fouled and drove the ball through Newcastle's flimsy defensive wall.

    The half was four minutes old after Steven Taylor had cleared successive shots from Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney off the line with goalkeeper Shay Given stranded.

    After 55 minutes the perennially reliable Given scuffed a clearance that hit Claudio Cacapa. He had no chance of controlling the ball and Ryan Giggs simply collected it and slid it into the path of Tevez, who stroked it into the net. He celebrated by pulling his baby's dummy from the inside pocket of his shorts and sucking on it.

    Ronaldo produced his second at the end of a sweeping move involving Michael Carrick, Rooney and Tevez and suddenly the United fans were wondering where the scoring would end while Geordie voices sang defiantly "We're gonna win 4-3."

    They were soon silent. Jose Enrique cleared off the line from Carrick as a prelude to Rio Ferdinand volleying Rooney's driven pass beyond Given, Ronaldo completed his hat-trick and Tevez completed the half dozen in time added on.

    Ferguson, a friend of the dismissed Allardyce, feels strongly about the way Newcastle have been run in recent years. Writing in the programme he accused Newcastle of "gobbling up managers and spitting them out again without a pause.

    "Their list of sacked bosses reads like a Who's Who of football with some of the greatest players taking up the challenge, though for not very long.

    "Top class players like Jack Charlton, Ossie Ardiles, Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Ruud Gullit, Sir Bobby Robson, and Graeme Souness have all been and gone.

    "Surely one of that distinguished band of legends would have been successful if the directors, supporters and media had shown a little more patience and given the guys in the hot-seat time to plan and build."

    Work for and manage Newcastle? They've turned the prospect into a joke.

    Man of the match
    Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd) 9• Scored his first hat-trick for United in style



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