Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Wayne Rooney Heads Man United Winner

The tweet by police seems to have done the trick on Wayne Rooney as he woke up from his "missing" status to provide a goal that secured victory for Manchester United over CSKA Moscow in Champions League Group B in front of a nervy Old Trafford crowd.

Only an excellent save from David de Gea and Chris Smalling's last-ditch block on the line had prevented the hosts falling behind a few minutes earlier as Seydou Doumbia burst clear.

Rooney's header was United's first goal in 404 minutes after three 0-0 draws.

The victory moves United top of the group with two games remaining.

Wolfsburg, who had led the standings before kick-off, were beaten 2-0 away to PSV Eindhoven.

While manager Louis van Gaal will feel his tactical decisions were vindicated by his side's early promise, with Rooney and Anthony Martial in tandem up front, and United's renewed energy after the second-half introduction of Marouane Fellaini, the crowd booed and called for more attacking intent at several points.

Plan A fails

After their three successive goalless draws, Paul Scholes and Andrei Kanchelskis - two of the most thrilling attackers Old Trafford have seen in recent times - had criticised the lack of creativity in Van Gaal's side.

The manager had reacted in prickly fashion, but his decision to liberate Martial from the left wing and play him up alongside Rooney as a second striker spoke volumes.

Rooney enjoyed the company, dropping deep to set up a chance for Jesse Lingard with a neat reverse ball.

Full-back Marcos Rojo meanwhile provided the hosts' width, sending over a barrage of crosses from the left as his team-mates channelled play down his flank.

But United's early momentum slowed and the half ended with the crowd urging their side to attack more, as optimism turned to tension.

Fans rebel against Van Gaal change

In the 66th minute, Van Gaal changed to a tactic he has insisted will never be "normal" as Fellaini came on to bolster the attack in place of Martial.

The decision drew jeers from the Old Trafford crowd, chants of Martial's name and more pleas for attacking football.

They were not alone in questioning Van Gaal's judgement. BBC Radio 5 live analyst Pat Nevin described the removal of Martial as "a shocker".
Van Gaal's judgement was questioned by some United fans at Old Trafford
Van Gaal's judgement was questioned by some United fans at Old Trafford
However, Fellaini's presence seemed to revive flagging United belief and unsettle CSKA's defenders.

When Lingard volleyed Michael Carrick's long pass back into the box it was the familiar head of Rooney - rather than the distinctive one of Fellaini - that met it to prevent his side going four games without scoring for the first time since 1992.

CSKA threaten repeat Manchester raid

Almost a year ago to the day, CSKA had plunged Manchester City's Champions League campaign into peril with a 2-1 win across the city at Etihad Stadium.

With star striker Doumbia - who scored both of the goals in that win - left on the bench the Russian side initially looked unlikely to repeat such a heist.

But the Ivorian's arrival after 55 minutes added an attacking edge and brought the visitors out of their shell. A game which had been comfortable for United up until that point suddenly started to change.

Doumbia should have added to a superb Champions League scoring record of 13 goals in 18 games, but De Gea and Smalling combined brilliantly to deny him and, just a minute later, Rooney moved level with Denis Law on United's all-time scoring charts with 237 goals.

Man of the match: Jesse Lingard

Jesse Lingard was busy down the left, got into the box to take four shots and provided a superb assist for Rooney's winner
Jesse Lingard was busy down the left, got into the box to take four shots and provided a superb assist for Rooney's winner

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