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United on the rampage

Newcastle, April 12 (Reuters): Manchester United produced an outstanding display of brilliant attacking football to demolish Newcastle United 6-2 at St James’ Park on Saturday and move three points ahead of Arsenal in the race for the English title.

A hattrick from Paul Scholes and goals from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Ryan Giggs and Ruud Van Nistelrooy (penalty) wiped out an opening goal from Jermaine Jenas which gave Newcastle the lead after 21 minutes.

United now lead the table with 70 points from 33 matches, three ahead of Arsenal (67 from 32) and Newcastle (61 from 33).

But the Gunners’ next League game is against United in what could effectively be the title decider at Highbury next Wednesday. They will meet a United side who put the disappointment of Tuesday’s 1-3 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League behind them in the most emphatic way possible.

Newcastle took the lead after 21 minutes with a superb goal from 20-year-old Jenas who lashed in a first-time shot from 20 metres. Solskjaer equalised after 32 minutes when he beat the offside trap and shot on the turn past Shay Given.

Scholes first goal came after a crisp passing move by United which he ended by volleying a one-two with Solskjaer through Given’s legs. His second was set up by a typically jinking run by Giggs. United went 4-1 up in the 44th minute when Giggs slammed home a rebound.

Scholes completed his hattrick after 52 minutes when he planted a cross from substitute Gary Neville wide of Given and five minutes later, Van Nistelrooy sent Given the wrong way from the penalty spot after Titus Bramble had tripped substitute Diego Forlan in the box.

Newcastle pulled one back two minutes from time after a poor Barthez clearance allowed Shola Ameobi to grab a consolation.

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