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Fergie’s army rains on Newcastle parade

Manchester United began their bid for a record-breaking 19th English league title by cruising to a 3-0 victory over promoted Newcastle on Monday.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2010 00:06 IST

Manchester United began their bid for a record-breaking 19th English league title by cruising to a 3-0 victory over promoted Newcastle on Monday.

Ryan Giggs extended his record of scoring in every season since the Premier League's inception in 1992 by volleying home in the 85th minute.

Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Fletcher hit first-half goals, but Wayne Rooney went a 13th match for United and England without scoring.

While United is trying to regain the Premier League trophy from Chelsea, Newcastle's priority is survival after bouncing straight back up following a season in the League Championship. “The most important thing in the first game is to win and, even though we could have scored more, we'll take that,” United midfielder Paul Scholes said.

After a lackluster World Cup, Rooney started equally forlornly in the Premier League - curling wide of the target after meeting Nani's neat backheeled pass.

Berbatov put United in front in the 33rd minute. Newcastle defender Jose Enrique inadvertently directed Scholes' through ball to Berbatov, who steadied himself and then dispatched the ball into the far corner past goalkeeper Steve Harper from an acute angle.

Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton could have equalized when Nani lost possession on the edge of the penalty area, but he went for goal rather than attempting to pick out better-placed teammates and goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar made a comfortable save.

It proved to be a costly misjudgment with United extending their lead in the 41st.

Nani sent Patrice Evra racing into the penalty area and, although Rooney could not control the France defender's low cross, he managed to nudge the ball for Darren Fletcher to turn Fabricio Coloccini on the edge of the six-yard box and find the net. But Rooney, who last scored against Bayern Munich in March, continued to look uneasy in front of goal and was replaced in the 63rd minute by new signing and Mexico forward Javier Hernandez.

Two United veterans combined for the third goal: Scholes picking out Giggs, whose first-time volley hit the ground before flying into the far right corner.

Anelka receives 18-match ban

Paris: The French Football Federation (FFF) suspended Nicolas Anelka for 18 matches for his role in the France team's World Cup fiasco, and handed a five-match ban to former captain Patrice Evra on Tuesday.

The FFF's disciplinary commission also gave a three-match ban to Franck Ribery and a one-match suspension to Jeremy Toulalan. Eric Abidal, the fifth player summoned to the four-hour hearing, escaped any sanctions.

All 23 players on France's World Cup squad boycotted a training session in South Africa to protest Anelka's expulsion after he insulted then-coach Raymond Domenech during a 2-0 loss to Mexico. Ribery, did not attend the hearing because Bayern Munich refused to release him ahead of its opening Bundesliga match on Friday against Wolfsburg.

“The players seemed sincerely sorry for what happened,” said former France team director Jean-Louis Valentin, who resigned when the players refused to take part in a training session. Domenech was among those who attended Tuesday's hearing, along with then-FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes and assistant coach Alain Boghossian.

Real Madrid sign mesut ozil

London: Real Madrid have agreed a deal to sign Mesut Ozil from Werder Bremen, according to the club's official website.

The midfielder, who starred for Germany at the World Cup, is believed to have joined the La Liga club for a fee close to £13m.

“His unique touch, unmatched individual technique, excellent ball control and deadly last pass make the German midfielder one of the brightest up-and-coming stars in European football,” read a statement on Real's website about Ozil.