Alex Livesey/Getty Images
December 26, 2014

MANCHESTER, England — Wayne Rooney scored twice in the first half as resurgent Manchester United easily beat Newcastle 3-1 Friday to strengthen its grip on third place in the Premier League.

Rooney was set up well by his teammates for both goals as Radamel Falcao met a long cross into the area in the 23rd minute, sliding to reach the ball at the far post and square a perfect pass for Rooney to tap into an empty net.

Falcao then helped United win possession just outside the Newcastle area in the 36th, and Juan Mata laid the ball off for a wide-open Rooney to slot a low shot inside the post.

Robin van Persie added the third in the 53rd minute for a convincing victory at Old Trafford, despite Papiss Cisse pulling one back with a late penalty for Newcastle.

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