By Lee Savery.
Manchester United comfortably beat an average Bayer Leverkusen side to record their first win of this season’s Champions League.
Wayne Rooney continued his excellent form as he stabbed home an Evra cross, on 22 minutes, which had two offsides that were missed in the move itself. Evra was marginally off when he received the ball and Valencia certainly interfered with the goalkeeper during Rooney’s effort. The officials did not give it, so the goal stood.
After the break, just as it looked like Rooney would double his tally as he, somehow, missed an open goal, Leverkusen got an equaliser out of nothing as Simon Rofles shot, from just outside the area, deflected off Carrick and into the net. Eight minutes into the second half and Bayer finally had something in the game.
The teams were level for just five minutes, however, when Valencia’s surging run down the right led to his cross being turned in, with an impressive right-footed volley by Van Persie. A superb goal with the technique you know the Dutchman for. The Leverkusen goalkeeper, Leno, will know he should have done better as he flapped at the effort.
The game was wrapped up nicely with Rooney involved in the home side’s final two goals of the night. First, a goal of his own on 70 minutes, after Spahic and Toprak got in each other’s way, the ball fell for United’s number 10 who beat Leno with a near post effort. With that, Rooney has become only the fourth United player in the club’s history to reach 200 goals – the others being: Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law & Jack Rowley.
United’s fourth came eight minutes as substitute Ashley Young led a counter attack. His incisive pass found Rooney who then showed patience and composure before playing in the onrushing Valencia who slammed home his first of the season. A goal and an assist, Valencia we know can play came back tonight.
Throughout the match, the United defence were comfortable but did make a few errors which will have annoyed David Moyes. Having failed to clear in the first goal conceded, it was De Gea who joined in the errors two minutes from time. The Spaniard came out for a corner in which he had no chance of getting to. The ball scrambled in the six yard box before Toprak poked it in, off the bar. A silly goal to concede in a match that was already won. A silly miss would follow it as Van Persie, up the other end, somehow missed an open goal from a Valencia cross.
Barring the two goals conceded, this was an excellent win for United. They dominated for long periods and looked confident throughout. The swagger in attack was back and if they did not play the “United way” against Crystal Palace, they certainly did here. Rooney looked impressive and Sami Hyypia’s team could not handle him during an average display on their part. He was full of smiles as he pulled the strings. People will still debate whether he is happy at United but on the football pitch, that stance never changes.
A comfortable first win in the Champions League for David Moyes and a good performance to go into the Manchester Derby with.
United team: De Gea, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Smalling, Carrick, Fellaini (Cleverley – 81′), Valencia, Kagawa (Young 71′), Rooney (Hernandez 84′), Van Persie.
Unused substitutes: Lindegaard, Evans, Fabio, Anderson.
Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney