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Rooney double eases dominant United to win over Newcastle

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LONDON, Mar 12 (Reuters) England striker Wayne Rooney hit a quickfire double, his first league goals of the year, to fire Manchester United to a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United at Old Trafford today.

Rooney latched on to a poor backpass from defender Peter Ramage to lift the ball over Shay Given for the opening goal after eight minutes.

Some slick passing between John O'Shea, Louis Saha and Rooney ended with the striker doubling the lead four minutes later and the 20-year-old missed a great chance for a hat-trick when he struck the post in the second half.

United's one-sided victory consolidated second place, although they still trail Chelsea by 15 points. Later today, seventh-placed Arsenal, five points adrift of the fourth Champions League place, take on third-placed Liverpool at Highbury.

France defender William Gallas smashed home a superb stoppage-time winner to give Chelsea a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur yesterday.

Reuters PDS DB2127

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