Revitalised Rooney hits two to inspire United
Wayne Rooney drew a line under an unsettled few months as he scored twice to chalk up 200 goals for Manchester United in a 4-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in their Champions League Group A opener at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Rooney, whose future at the club had been in question after he was left out of key games last season and was courted by Chelsea in the transfer window, scored United's first and third goals and provided the assist for the fourth.
"Wayne was great today," United manager David Moyes told a news conference. "He's got a real chance to be one of the all-time leading goalscorers at the club and if he keeps playing like he did today he'll get there."
The England striker put the Premier League champions ahead in the 22nd minute with a close-range volley and had chances to stretch the lead before Leverkusen captain Simon Rolfes levelled after 54 minutes.
Robin van Persie re-established the three-times European champions' lead five minutes later with an acrobatic volley and Rooney made amends for an earlier miss by squeezing home a right-footed shot after a defensive mix-up.
Antonio Valencia made it 4-1 after 79 minutes before Omer Toprak's late consolation for Leverkusen as Moyes enjoyed his first taste of managing in the Champions League group stage with a victory.
"They played ever so well and scored four good goals and maybe could have added to that, so I'm really pleased with the performance," Moyes said.
United, who had not scored a goal in open play in their last three matches, showed an intent to remedy that with an attack-minded lineup as midfielders Shinji Kagawa and Marouane Fellaini made their first starts of the season.
After dominating possession, the hosts seized the initiative when Patrice Evra crossed to an unmarked Rooney, whose volley bounced over Leverkusen keeper Bernd Leno.
The goal was controversial, though, with Leverkusen players claiming offside in the build up and obstruction by Valencia on Leno as Rooney's shot flew in.
Rooney went close to a second with a free kick shortly before halftime that went over the wall and just wide while Kagawa missed by a whisker.
Wearing a headband to protect a gash on his forehead, Rooney should have scored just after the break when Toprak's backpass fell short and the striker rounded the keeper only to fire across the face of goal rather than shoot into an open net.
The misses might have become costly as a livelier Leverkusen pushed for an equaliser, finding one when Son Heung-min picked out Rolfes, whose first-time left-foot shot curled into the corner via a slight deflection off Michael Carrick.
However, United, drawing on their European experience despite their manager's lack of it, pulled ahead again through Van Persie when the Dutchman volleyed in Valencia's cross with Leno slow to react.
Rooney pounced on Leverkusen's defensive mistake to register his 200th goal for United. He is fourth on the club's list of all-time leading scorers, led by Bobby Charlton on 249.
Rooney then set up Valencia for United's fourth of the evening before being substituted to a standing ovation.
"We lost to a better team," Leverkusen manager Sami Hyypia, making his managerial debut in the competition, told a news conference.
"United showed quality in their passing game and possession. We can learn a lot from today ... we said beforehand that we should give them respect but perhaps we gave them too much and we were a little bit nervous today."
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Date 27-03-14, Duration 1:52, Views 517