Wayne Rooney shines as United beat Leverkusen 4-2

Wayne Rooney in action during Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen
Wayne Rooney was excellent through the 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen

Manchester United and David Moyes got their 2013/14 Champions League season off with a bang, beating German side Bayern Leverkusen 4-2 at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney, who was by some distance the man of the match, notched a brace, whilst Robin van Persie and Antonio Valencia scored the other two.

Rolfes had equalised early in the second half following Wayne Rooney’s opener, but some poor keeping and an exquisite van Persie finish gave United the initiative. United were well worthy of the three points despite a late goal from Toprak after a David De Gea error. Here we discuss the talking points from the game and welcome comments from both sets of fans.

Wayne Rooney stars in win
It may have looked like curtains earlier in the summer, when Wayne Rooney was heavily linked with a move away from Old Trafford to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. United’s firm stance that Rooney was indeed not for sale, despite the player’s obvious desire to leave the club, seems to have paid off following a stunning performance from the forward. United’s fourth all time top goal scorer, who now has two hundred goals for the club, rolled back the years against Leverkusen who just couldn’t deal with Rooney.

Whether he dropped deep to influence play, before busting a slightly trimmer looking gut to outpace a trailing player or whether it was a glimmer of skill to nutmeg an opponent, he had it all in United’s opening Champions League match. A smart finish following good work down the left hand side from Patrice Evra and a perfectly weighted assist for the on rushing Valencia put the game out of sight. He also latched on to a David De Gea punt, following some shocking defending, and finished cooly past the helpless German goalkeeper.

Rooney becomes only the fourth man, behind Rowley, Law and Charlton respectively to notch up two hundred goals for the club. An exceptional achievement, even for a player who still harbours some resentment – if his post match interview is anything to go by. Regardless of what has happened over the past four months, it was a superb performance.

Valencia puts in promising performance
At one point in his Manchester United career there was no stopping Antonio Valencia, despite knowing exactly what was coming. A one on one with the left back, a drop of the shoulder and change of pace to give him that yard before a low crossed drive would be converted. Over the past few seasons, those moments have been too few and far between, even though the player is blessed with an exceptional amount of ability. Against Chelsea in the 0-0 draw, he was wasteful in the attacking third, but provided good cover for Jones who was up against Hazard. His work rate is never in question, but his composure to deliver a goal scoring assist wasn’t what it once was.

Against Leverkusen he looked dangerous on the right flank, taking on the left back Boenisch, who wasn’t able to stop the cross for van Persie’s equaliser. Valencia was also controversially involved in the first goal, when he blocked Leno in an offside position following Rooney’s strike. Leno had grounds to complain, although – judging by his performance following the first goal – he probably would have fumbled it in. The Ecuadorian scored his first goal of the season and pointed to sky in tribute to Christian Benitez, his former team mate who sadly died over the summer following a heart problem.

Marouane Fellaini decent full debut if little wasteful in possession
United’s transfer attempts were ridiculed by fans up and down the country as Edward Woodward put bids in for nearly every central midfielder one could think of. As it turned out, United ended up with one major signing – Belgian Marouane Fellaini from Everton, who was reportedly available for £4million less just a month previous. The transfer window of the summer of 2013 is now a distant memory, but United fans are keen to see if Fellaini can step up on the European stage. United’s number 31 put in a solid performance, despite some wayward passing at times when going forward, and broke up play most of the evening.

Operating alongside Michael Carrick, he won the majority of his aerial duels, whilst putting in some tidy clearance, helping out the back four. Fellaini was often used higher up the pitch when he played against United, causing his new centre midfield partner, who was a make shift centre half that evening, all sorts of problems in the 1-0 defeat last season. His physicality and ability to close down an opponent was on show against Leverkusen and he will surely start on Sunday away at Manchester City.

Manchester United were well worth the 4-2 victory against the German club and dominationed possession and shots on goal. United’s fourth was most probably the pick of the bunch, even after Robin van Perise’s acrobatics, with a quick break away from the edge of United’s penalty area and some neat interchange between Young and Rooney, who laid off a perfect ball for Valencia to finish. Both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie were guilty of two horrendous misses, one of which would have contributed to a potential Rooney hattrick. The Dutchman would usually have put his chance away in his sleep, but Valencia’s drilled cross was mishit by United’s top scorer from last season, who embarrassingly struck wide.

Many reds were pleased to see Shinji Kagawa back in the starting lineup, even though the Japanese playmaker looked short of match fitness and was slow to react on occasions, although there were glimpses of his talent with an excellent ball to van Persie in the first half. David De Gea was impressive in goal, despite a late flap which gifted Leverkusen a second goal from a corner. The Spaniard’s fumble shouldn’t cloud judgement on a solid performance, which also included an assist. However, the night belonged to Wayne Rooney, who notched up two hundred goals for United. Its debatable whether or not he will surpass Bobby Charlton’s total of 249 goals, but performances like this bode well for the rest of the season.

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