By Imran Kardar
Manchester United broke the hat-trick of 0-0 score lines and scored a goal and managed to win versus CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford in the Champions League. And surprise, surprise the winner was scored by none other than Wayne Rooney! Rooney had come in for a lot of criticism before the game with many calling for him to be dropped from the lineup for the game. In truth, Rooney has had an immensely poor season by his high standards. He has looked off the pace and ineffective. But the Manchester United captain got on the end of an inch perfect cross from Lingard to score the header that put United on the top of the table. In the process Rooney equaled Dennis Law’s tally of 237 goals for United in the all-time scoring charts. He is now only 12 behind Sir Bobby Charlton, you would expect Rooney to break his record and become United’s all-time highest goal scorer. Not a bad achievement that but one that he hardly gets any credit for in the world of the Messi’s and the Ronaldo’s. But that’s a separate debate, back to the game!
LVG made a few changes to the previous line up and played Young in defense at right back, not trusting Darmian for the all-important game. Carrick came in for Schneiderlin and Lingard started on the left wing allowing Martial to play upfront with Rooney as the No.10. United came out of the blocks quickly for this one. There was much more attacking play on offer, the tempo was quicker and so was the passing. United were creating chances but not getting on the end of them. Mata got the best chance of the half with a lovely ball from Blind from defense matching Mata’s run. He managed to get a toe to it however couldn’t deflect it past the keeper. Lingard was put through on goal early on by Rooney but he couldn’t beat the keeper to the ball. He also got in to a couple of good positions but his shots at goal were wayward. Rojo also had a great chance when Young put in a lovely cross to the far post but he couldn’t manage to strike his volley on target.
The second half was more of the same from United with Rooney missing an absolute sitter of a goal. It could have proved costly as CSKA counter attacked soon after and Doumbia had only De Gea to beat, luckily for United he pulled off a great save. That wasn’t the end of it as Doumbia had a second shot at goal only to be denied by a sliding save from Michael Smalling, I mean Chris Smalling!
United scored the winning goal from an absolutely delightful ball from Carrick to Lingard on the right wing, without taking the ball down Lingard put it back on the edge of the six yard box where Rooney was unmarked for his header. United had broken the deadlock! They saw the game through afterwards and at full time the players and the manager looked relieved. The win takes United to the top of the table; however they still need to win their next game to be sure of qualification.
There were some good performances from the United players. DDG came up with a brilliant save when called upon (and that was really the only time he was called upon). Smalling had another solid game in defense. Young was lively at right back but had a low point with a dive to try and win a penalty in the second half. He needs to cut that out of his game because it’s not the kind of thing you expect from a player playing at Manchester United. Carrick was great in the middle of the park. Yes, he gave away possession in the first half a few times but his forward passing was a joy to behold at times. Up front Rooney and Lingard had good games. I wouldn’t say they were outstanding but Rooney seemed much more involved and up for the game and Lingard’s direct running at the defense proved troublesome for the defenders. All in all it was a much better performance from the players and a deserved win.