Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney scored twice to keep the Red Devils alive in the title race as rivals Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool all won their respective fixtures on Boxing Day.

Wayne Rooney led from the front and played a pivotal role in the midfield where he teamed up with Michael Carrick. The Manchester United captain was instrumental in the team’s performance and scored twice while setting up fellow striker Van Persie for the third goal.

The captain likened his performance to Manchester United legend Paul Scholes and believes that he is comfortable playing as an attacking midfielder.

“It’s a role that I’ve played many times and I know I can play. The manager has given me even more licence to get forward and get into the box from that role. As Paul [Scholes] did many times over his career, he could see the ball when it was wide and see the space and run into it – I did that today with my two goals. It’s nice to win, nice to score goals and I’m delighted with the performance.”

“It was a good performance, a good win. We were disappointed at the end to concede a goal but, overall, we’ve got to be pleased with the three points.”

Manager Louis Van Gaal also lauded his Captain and claimed that he had asked Rooney to be more attacking following his defensive positioning against Aston Villa.

“The last game against Aston Villa he was too much of a defensive midfielder and I wanted more an attacking midfielder because he can score goals, and he has proven that today.”

Falcao had a good game as United win 3-1 against Newcastle United

Falcao had a good game as United win 3-1 against Newcastle United

The attacking trio of Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Radamel Falcao had a good game and were ably assisted by Juan Mata and Michael Carrick. It was Falcao who set up Rooney for the first goal and was instrumental in winning the ball back which eventually set  Rooney up for his second ball. A brilliant pass by Mata found Rooney with plenty of space in the box and the Englishman coolly slotted the ball away to give United a 2-0 lead at half-time. United kept pace in the second half and Rooney delivered a brilliant cross to Robin Van Persie who headed in the third goal for Robin Van Persie.

Speaking after the match, Van Gaal claimed that though Manchester United are improving, they are still making mistakes in the game. He particularly criticized his players for losing concentration in the second half but believes that United are getting back to dominating their games. The Dutchman believes that the best is yet to come for Manchester United.

“Yes I was very pleased because we have dominated 90 minutes.”

“We make progress every game. But we are also doing very bad things in every game and we have to improve that. But I am satisfied because we are dominating a lot of games this season. Not always winning but that is coming.”

“I think we have dominated the game for 90 minutes and scored fantastic goals – we should have scored much more. The first-half was, of course, the better half and, during the second, we were already thinking of the match against Tottenham, which is why we did not dominate – I am very pleased with the performance today.”

Keeping the hectic schedule in mind, Van Gaal decided to replace Falcao with Wilson and Carrick with Fletcher with half an hour to go in the game. Rafael was brought on for Valencia towards the end of the game and the manager will be relieved to have his right-back returning to match-fitness ahead of the crucial holiday schedule.

Newcastle were denied a penalty early on in the game but despite a decent start, Alan Pardew’s men failed to make an impact in the game. Papiss Cisse scored a late consolation for Newcastle United after Phil Jones gave away a penalty towards the dying minutes of the game.

Manchester United will now visit London as they face Tottenham Hotspur in a crucial clash as both teams go into the game looking for a win.