Nothing in the first half indicated such brilliance, but star Cristiano Ronaldo
put on a show in the second half to lead Manchester United to a 6-0 victory over manager-less Newcastle United on Saturday that took it back on top -- on goal
difference -- in the English Premier League following Arsenal's 1-1 tie with Birmingham City at home.
"We had too many individuals in the first half trying to walk the ball into the
net," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
. "But the second-half display was marvelous, absolutely fantastic and could not be faulted."
Ronaldo's three goals increased his tally to 22 this season.
"To score 22 goals at this stage of the season for a wide player is fantastic, incredible," added Ferguson. "But I am not
surprised. He is always practicing, improving and his decision-making is getting better."
Five minutes after halftime, Ronaldo opened the scoring with a free kick that he struck under
the Newcastle wall as the Magpies jumped. His second goal followed a good move involving Wayne Rooney
and Carlos Tevez,
and his third late in the game again gave Irish keeper Shay Given
Tevez added two goals himself, and Rio
scored the other as United took advantage of some awful play with and without the ball by Newcastle's defenders.
The game marked the debut of interim manager Nigel Pearson
following the departure of Sam Allardyce
"It's a very, very difficult day for us,
it's very painful," he said. "They were a lot better than us and the way we folded at the end, it is difficult to take. We as a club need to move forward quickly to get the situation resolved."
Newcastle's efforts to pry Harry Redknapp
away from Portsmouth appeared to prove unsuccessful as Pompey said no to Redknapp's proposed move north.