Belfast Telegraph

Wayne Rooney ends Manchester United's goal drought with winner against CSKA Moscow

Man Utd 1 - CSKA Moscow 0

By Paul Hirst

Wayne Rooney ended Manchester United's 404-minute goal drought by the scoring the winner against CSKA Moscow on a night of high emotion at Old Trafford.

The United support had vented their frustration at the players when they sauntered off the pitch at half-time having failed to score again, and then Louis van Gaal got it in the neck for replacing Anthony Martial with Marouane Fellaini in the second half.

The supporters booed loudly when the striker was substituted in the 66th minute, but soon after Rooney headed in to give United a valuable 1-0 win over the Russians.

Victory over PSV in three weeks' time will put United into the knockout stages of the Champions League.

That would be some achievement for Van Gaal's team, who lost their first match against the Dutch side seven weeks ago.

But the United manager still has a long way to go to prove his doubters wrong by pairing good results with enterprising, attacking football.

Rooney, at least, made his critics eat a slice of humble pie by scoring the winner. The captain's first Champions League goal since September 2013 was a welcome one. He is now level with United's second highest scorer Denis Law on 237 goals.

It was clear before kick-off United's fans wanted a performance as well as a win here.

The Stretford End yelled "attack, attack, attack" as the players came out and the hosts obliged initially.

In the first 20 minutes there was no evidence of the "sideways, boring" football Paul Scholes accused United of in the BT studios before kick off.

United threw everything at CSKA. Martial, playing up front, squared to Rooney, who dragged a volley narrowly wide.

Daley Blind floated a 50-yard pass over CSKA's defence, but Juan Mata could not steer the ball past Igor Akinfeev.

For a while it was like the good old days. The only thing that was missing was a goal. Mata danced into the box, and found Ashley Young, but Lingard blasted his shot over.

Marcos Rojo rippled the side-netting. Despite their dominance, the United fans did not seem too happy. They repeated their demand for attacking football as the players walked off at the break.

United continued to waste chances after the restart. Rojo nodded a free header wide. Rooney tapped the ball into the net, but the cheers from behind the goal were ironic as the referee had blown for offside.

CSKA threw on dangerous striker Seydou Doumbia, who would have scored had David de Gea not collected Ahmed Musa's cross just before the Ivorian could nod in.

Then in the 66th minute, there was outrage from the United fans when Van Gaal replaced Martial with Fellaini.

Boos rang out when the board showing Martial's number was raised by the fourth official. After the Frenchman had left the field, the United supporters sang his name before yelling "We're Man Utd, we want to attack". The message was clear - they were not happy with the substitution.

United continued to flounder in front of goal. Rooney could not get the ball out from underneath his feet with the goal gaping.

At the other end Chris Smalling cleared off the line from Doumbia.

But then finally the breakthrough came. Michael Carrick floated a pass over the back four, Lingard squared first time and Rooney headed in before embarking upon a wild celebration in front of the Stretford End.


Andrew Cole @vancole9

Yessssss Wazza @ManUtd


Manchester United:

David de Gea: 8 (out of 10)

Ashley Young: 7

Chris Smalling: 7

Daley Blind: 7

Michael Carrick: 7

Bastian Schweinsteiger: 5

Jesse Lingard: 7

Juan Mata: 6

Anthony Martial: 6

Wayne Rooney: 6


Marouane Fellaini (on for Martial, 66mins): 5

Memphis Depay (on for Mata, 74mins): 5

Ander Herrera (on for Schweinsteiger, 89mins: 5


Igor Akinfeev: 7

Mario Fernandes: 6

Alexsei Berezutski: 7

Sergei Ignashevich: 6

Georgi Schennikov: 7

Pontus Wernbloom: 6

Bebras Natcho: 5

Zoran Tosic: 5

Alan Dzagoev: 5

Georgi Milanov: 6

Ahmed Musa: 7


Seydou Doumbia (on for Natcho, 55mins): 8

Alexandr Golovin (on for Tosic, 75mins): 5

Kirill Panchenko (on for Dzagoev, 85mins): 5


Jesse Lingard: Wasteful in possession at times, but deserves praise for taking risks and trying to take defenders on. His first-time square pass for Rooney's goal was weighted to perfection.


Wayne Rooney's goal: Rooney split the CSKA centre-halves perfectly to find space to nod in Lingard's pass, which came after a brilliant ball into the box from Michael Carrick. The relief inside Old Trafford was palpable. United played with much more freedom after that.


Louis van Gaal's decision to remove Anthony Martial and replace him with Marouane Fellaini went down like a lead balloon inside Old Trafford. United fans saw it as a negative move and had Rooney not scored, the Dutchman would have surely been booed when he went off the pitch. The United boss deserves praise for restoring Martial to his natural striking role, however. Van Gaal's opposite number Leonid Slutski kept Seydou Doumbia on the bench until the early stages of the second half, which was surprising given that the Ivorian has such a good record in the Champions League, particularly against English sides.


That substitution: Martial was not having the best of games, but he still looked by far the most dangerous player on the pitch. Fellaini added little when he came on to the pitch. Rooney should have come off instead, but Van Gaal says his captain is untouchable.


Manchester United v West Brom, Saturday November 7

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph