Rooney’s brace spares Manchester United's blushes
Sc Otelul Galati 0 Manchester United 2: Wayne Rooney became the highest English scorer in the Champions League as 10-man Manchester United scraped home against Romanian Group C stragglers Otelul Galati.
Rooney slotted home a pair of second-half penalties to give Sir Alex Ferguson’s team their win, although skipper Nemanja Vidic will miss the remainder of the group phase after being sent-off for a high tackle on Gabriel Giurgiu.
The goals, which took Rooney to 26 in the competition on his first start since being sent-off while playing for England in Montenegro and suffering a ban Ferguson fears will prevent him from featuring at Euro 2012.
The win should put a smile back on the striker's face as United have now moved into second spot in Group C.
However, Ferguson will be less than impressed with the overall performance.
After tossing away a two-goal lead against Basle at Old Trafford three weeks ago, United could not afford to take this game lightly as the manager might have expected when the draw was made.
United midfielder Michael Carrick claimed the sending-off of Vidic was not clear-cut.
He said: “It was a dubious sending-off at best really and we're disappointed with that.
“We expected it to be hard. We knew it was going to be tough, we had to be patient and in the end we came through.
“You go into the game expecting a tough game and anything else is a bonus.”
Time and again United squandered possession under little pressure.
At one stage, the normally dependable Vidic was guilty of simply passing the ball to a member of the opposition side close to his own area.
Bratislav Punosevac immediately drilled an effort towards goal which Anders Lindegaard gathered.
Lindegaard was culpable minutes later when he smacked a clearance straight into Vidic.
The Danish goalkeeper was fortunate Punosevac was moving in the opposite direction to the one the ball rebounded into, otherwise the Otelul striker would have tapped into an empty net.
Without a point so far and their own president suggesting avoiding embarrassment was their only target, Otelul visibly grew in confidence.
And Liviu Antal came closest to breaking the deadlock a minute before the break when he guided a close range header over.
Clearly the technically superior team and enjoying an overwhelming advantage in possession, United did little with it.
Rooney did not get into the contest for half an hour, by which time Patrice Evra had embarked on a forceful burst to draw a decent save out of Branko Grahovac.
Like their hosts, United's clearest opening in the opening period came in its' death throes as Nani rolled a pass into Carrick's path.
It was an inviting opportunity that the midfielder wasted by blazing over, typifying much of his side's overall sloppiness.
For the first 15 minutes of the second-half it would not be unfair to say nothing happened but it all livened up on the hour though, starting with a low Nani cross to Rooney, whose shot on the turn bounced narrowly wide.
The pair combined on United's next attack too, this time to provide Rooney with space from which to pick out Hernandez.
Otelul defender Sergiu Costin instinctively stuck out an arm to prevent the cross reaching the Mexican. Costin was fortunate not to be sent-off. Instead, the spot-kick proved to be United's only reward as Rooney sent Grahavac the wrong way.
Once in front, it was hard to see how the visitors could not win.
Within minutes Otelul were back in it though thanks to a second tough call on United by German referee Felix Brych, who decided there was an element of danger about Vidic's challenge on Giurgiu and promptly sent the Serbian off.
Ferguson reacted by introducing Jonny Evans and Phil Jones to repel a growing wave of home attacks. Costin headed over, then Punosevac's shot on the turn almost crept in.
Their hopes were ended by the dismissal of Milan Perendija for a second bookable offence two minutes from time, after which Rooney struck again finding the same corner as previously after he had been tripped by Liviu Antal.