Home » Champ League, Latest » CL Match Report: Man United 4 Bayer Leverkusen 2

Wayne Rooney now seems intent on making history at Manchester United, rather than being history there. With all his summer travails behind him, Rooney looks fit, refreshed and focused on the future which could one day see him overtake Sir Bobby Charlton as the club’s all-time scorer.

On Tuesday night’s headline-stealing evidence spiced by two goals and a marvellous assist (and a spectacular miss), Rooney can set new records here.

Charlton watched this entertaining Champions League Group A defeat of Bayer Leverkusen, looking on admiringly as Rooney became only the fourth player in United’s illustrious history to reach 200 goals.

Rooney, 27, is now within touching distance of third-placed Jack Rowley’s 211 and could pass Denis Law’s 237 and Charlton’s 249 by the time he is 30. Rooney is walking with giants.

No wonder United’s new manager, David Moyes, worked so hard in the summer to persuade Rooney to stay, ignoring the flirtatious advances of Chelsea amongst other suitors.

Tuesday night was a victory for Moyes in many senses; not only was this win over Leverkusen a largely convincing start to his first European campaign at United but his astute handling of the Rooney saga has been rewarded.

Far tougher challenges lie ahead, and the quality in Europe was reflected by the displays of Real Madrid, Paris St-Germain, Bayern Munich and Manchester City on the same night, but this showed Moyes can bring the best out of Rooney, setting the team up in 4-2-3-1 style that allow the attacker to roam and plunder.

Many of Rooney’s qualities were on parade: the assured first touch, the deft pass and the refusal to be distracted by a mistake (that second-half miss).

He clearly loves working in tandem with Robin van Persie, and clearly appreciates being deployed in the hole by Moyes where he can create chances and ghost into good positions.

It was notable that Rooney did less tracking back, primarily because Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick formed a strong shield in midfield. He was in the danger zone, damaging Leverkusen so much that the defeated manager, Sami Hyypia, sportingly sought Rooney out at the final whistle to shake his hand and congratulate him.

Rooney was on the bench by then, having been withdrawn six minutes earlier to a standing ovation. Rooney began United’s last Champions League game on the bench, the 2-1 defeat by Real Madrid, at a time when he was clearly at odds with the then manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.

It was all change from then with Ferguson in the smart seats, his erstwhile assistant Mike Phelan in the commentary seats and Moyes, who was working for radio that March night, was down in the hot-seat. Moyes had a front-row seat for the Rooney show.

His healing wound protected by that huge headband, Rooney began the scoring after 22 minutes. Van Persie drifted to the left occasionally and here to particularly good effect. He toyed with the Leverkusen full-back, Giulio Donati, before the ball was worked back to Shinji Kagawa and then on to Patrice Evra.

The full-back’s cut-back flew to Rooney, who volleyed the ball down into the ground past Bernd Leno, who was being obstructed by Antonio Valencia. The usefulness of Michel Platini’s beloved additional assistant referees was again raised. Leverkusen were furious about Valencia’s impeding.

Van Persie was also getting hot under the collar, reacting to a foul from Donati by enquiring of Damir Skomina why he had not been awarded a free-kick. Whatever the legitimacy of the Dutchman’s claims, he also risked a caution by making his point loudly in the referee’s face.

Skomina duly booked Van Persie for dissent. It was a needless caution, one that could have been particularly expensive had the referee not shown clemency in the second half when Van Persie tripped Lars Bender.

Unietd continued to flourish. Rooney lifted a free-kick over the wall but just wide. Kagawa, not really seizing his chance to shine on a rare start, chested down Valencia’s cross but his shot deflected wide.

Valencia was enjoying one of his best performances for ages, showing all the direct running and willingness to take on opponents that encouraged United to pay Wigan Athletic £16m. Maybe that No 7 shirt weighed too heavily on him. Now back in his old No 25 top, Valencia looks liberated.

Leverkusen never gave up. Sidney Sam, their promising young attacker, turned smartly and tested David de Gea. Rooney should have made it 2-0 after rounding Leno but shot across goal. Moyes, who had his fist clenched ready to punch the air, sank back in his chair in disbelief.

Rooney’s miss looked expensive when Simon Rolfes’ shot took a slight deflection off Carrick and beat De Gea. “You only sing when you’re winning,’’ chorused the Leverkusen fans. United soon were.

They continued to ask questions of Leno. On the hour, Van Persie met Valencia’s cross with an exquisite right-footed volley that bemused Leno. Rooney then ran through, deceiving Leno with a glance to the right before stroking the ball the other way.

Rooney had not finished, accelerating a counter-attack with a wonderful pass bisecting Leverkusen’s defence for Valencia to make it 4-1 with a right-footed shot past Leno.

United’s defence were caught out late on. From Emre Can’s corner, Reinartz headed against the bar after De Gea hesitated and Toprak made it 4-2. The English champions should have made it 5-2 but Van Persie somehow miscued Valencia’s driven ball. It was a miss even worse than Rooney’s.

United fans were busily singing Rooney’s name by then. Yet such was his desire to leave Old Trafford in the close season that predictions of his future mood and movement could be risky but if he has settled, and a new contract is surely pending, then Rooney can become one of the history boys here.

Source: Telegraph

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