By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Gary Lineker has called on the handball law to be changed in the wake of the penalty given to Manchester United in the early exchanges of their Premier League clash against Newcastle.

Referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot after Marouane Fellaini headed a United corner into the arm of Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba from a distance of inches.

Wayne Rooney stepped up to slot in the penalty to give the visitors a 1-0 lead after nine minutes. It was Rooney’s third goal in three games and the first time he had scored in consecutive Premier League matches since November 2014.

The instant reaction of pundits was that it was a soft penalty and that Mbemba, who had his back to Fellaini at the point of impact, had not intended to handle the ball.

But Lineker took to social media site Twitter to argue that the inconsistency of the application of the law is the biggest problem and that intent should not be an issue.

“It’s time they changed the handball law. Make it that every time it strikes a hand/arm it’s a free kick/penalty regardless of intent,” tweeted Lineker on Tuesday night.

United dominated the first half against Newcastle as they aimed for their third consecutive victory.

Louis van Gaal’s team scraped past Sheffield United in the FA Cup at the weekend with a last-gasp 1-0 win, and defeated Swansea 2-1 in their previous match.