Belfast Telegraph

Ban was behind Rooney omission

Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed he left Wayne Rooney out of his starting line-up for Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield as a direct result of the three-match ban that threatens to rule him out of Euro 2012.

Ferguson told MUTV on Friday that he expected the punishment UEFA handed down on Thursday evening. And ultimately, that was enough to trigger the decision to leave Rooney on the bench on Saturday, although he was introduced in the second half as United fought back to claim a point.

"Wayne was devastated at the suspension," said Ferguson. "He could miss the European Championships because there is no guarantee England are going to qualify (from their group). That is the nuts and bolts of it. England have found it very difficult to progress in major championships and for Wayne to get three matches, he could miss the whole thing."

In his absence, Danny Welbeck led the United attack, although he was forced to feed off scraps as the visitors failed to test Pepe Reina in the first half.

Aside from one Phil Jones header into the side netting, the Old Trafford outfit played within themselves, concentrating on the defensive side of their game against opponents they have lost to three times in succession on their visits to Merseyside.

It was not until Steven Gerrard curled Liverpool in front that United opened up.

First Ferguson introduced Rooney and Nani, then Javier Hernandez, who headed home Nani's corner 15 minutes from the end.

"Hernandez did it again," enthused Ferguson.

"When you see the goal he was strangled by Martin Skrtel but he managed to free himself.

"His goals-per-game ratio is fantastic. You always think he can score. That is the great thing about him."

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