Late Rooney goal helps Manchester United beat spirited CSKA Moscow

© Vladimir Astapkovich
A late Wayne Rooney goal earned Manchester United a 1-0 win at home against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday night, ending a run of three consecutive goalless draws and sending the Red Devils to the top of Group B.

It was a highly watchable encounter at Old Trafford, with United clearly demonstrating a more potent attacking threat than in recent weeks, as Louis van Gaal pushed both Anthony Martial and Rooney up top and winger Jesse Lingard took advantage of a rare start, coming up with a crucial assist for the England captain’s 79th minute goal.

Michael Carrick’s raking pass started the move, with Lingard’s first time volleyed pass across the box being met by the head of Rooney for the goal that ended United’s 404 minute drought, moving the 30 year-old level with Denis Law in the all-time Man United goal-scoring charts.

But it was not all smooth sailing for United. While Van Gaal’s side dominated the proceedings from the word go at Old Trafford, pushing for a goal to calm the nerves around the stadium, they were booed off at the break following yet another goalless half. The chance of the half fell to Marcos Rojo, with the defender blazing wide after a superb ball from the right from Ashley Young.

With United struggling to make their possession count and CSKA utilizing a high back line to good effect, a much-criticized Marouane Fellaini substitution came along just before the hour, heralding more frustration from the United faithful. There was clearly more attacking endeavor from United, but as the second half ticked away, it seemed to be yet another frustrating night for the club, despite their improved attacking intent.

Indeed, it was CSKA who nearly snatched victory before Rooney’s intervention, with Seydou Doumbia denied by a combination of David De Gea and Chris Smalling at the back after being set through on goal.

© Vladimir Astapkovich

Minutes later, United’s persistence paid off, with Rooney leaping to head past CSKA keeper Igor Akinfeev with just over 10 minutes to go. The 22 year-old Lingard, who perhaps let the occasion get the better of him at times in the first half with some wild attempts on goal, provided a peach of a cross to give Louis van Gaal some respite from recent criticisms, and send United to the top of their group with just two games to go.

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