Rooney gives Moyes emphatic win against Leverkusen

Posted by Mark Payne

Michael Regan/Getty ImagesWayne Rooney capped a superb evening with a goal in United's 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

David Moyes is doing a good job of letting his players do the talking. Much of the talk in the buildup to this match centred on the manager's lack of experience at this level. If the job of a football manager is to get the best from his players, Moyes is earning his money, as evidenced by Manchester United's 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday.

Just a month ago, Wayne Rooney was determined to leave Manchester United. His agent was jumping up and down, and Chelsea were circling. That unfortunate period seems like a million years ago when Rooney is scoring. He plundered two goals Tuesday night to make it three in a week.

- Report: Manchester United 4-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Last season Bayer Leverkusen finished just a point behind Borussia Dortmund, European finalists and conquerors of Real Madrid. Given that pedigree, they might have been expected to attack a little more than they did Tuesday. Instead, their game plan was to play as deep as possible and defend in numbers. It fell apart with Rooney's opener, a straightforward volley after excellent buildup play from Patrice Evra on the left.

In support of Rooney, the fans got the team selection they wanted with Shinji Kagawa alongside the England man and Robin van Persie deployed slightly ahead of them. If this was set up as an audition for supremacy, it was Rooney who read his lines most fluently. Kagawa's confidence and eye for a pass are superb, but he seemed a little rusty. Rooney was the most fluent of United's attackers.

Behind them sat Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick. Fellaini is new to Champions League football, but his experiences with the Belgian national side have prepared him well for the high-intensity technical football in these matches. He exceeded expectations and was involved throughout the first half, breaking up play and clearing from the back. He was unmissable, not least because it has been so long since a United player was seen conspicuously doing that job.

In the meantime, van Persie was having a fairly grumpy evening. United's Dutch striker did not have much fun being fouled by the German side and was booked for protesting wildly about a late challenge in the opening period. As the second half began, it appeared as though the Leverkusen players were under instruction to rile van Persie in the hope of inspiring a red card offence.

Whatever their intentions, they scored a 1-1 equalizer early in the second half after Rooney had squandered a chance to bury the match. Rooney managed to combine the agonizing with the majestic as he missed an open goal after rounding the keeper; two minutes later Leverkusen scored. Football can be a cruel game.

Leverkusen's goal was a crisp strike from the edge of the area by Simon Rolfes, but it was no match for United's response. Confidence-shy Antonio Valencia tore down the right wing before pulling back a cross that van Persie volleyed home as casually as if he were collecting the morning paper.

Rooney's second and United's third was even more brazen. After some alarming dithering in the 18-yard box by Chris Smalling, David de Gea smothered a goal-bound shot from Heung-Min Son. He immediately launched the ball forward and caused a mix-up between two Leverkusen defenders. The ball bounced to Rooney, who beat the keeper mercilessly within a second. It was his 200th Manchester United goal; there will be more.

Rooney was at the heart of United's fourth goal, too -- a rocket from Valencia that nearly tore the net off the goal. The pass that picked him out wrong-footed the Leverkusen defence and left the goal at the Ecuadorian's mercy. Rooney's full repertoire was on show.

Moyes will be disappointed that Rio Ferdinand and de Gea were outmuscled as Omer Toprak scored in the 88th minute, but the game was won by then. Although not flawless, this was certainly United's best performance of the season, and there is more to come from Kagawa, not to mention Wilfried Zaha, Nani and Chicharito Hernandez. The Mancunians are in good shape.

From a managerial perspective, it seems Moyes is getting the best from a striker who recently was determined to leave. Sir Alex Ferguson couldn't manage that. Fellaini seems comfortable in his new surroundings, and there is competition for places throughout the team. It is probably time to allocate credit where it is due.

Follow Mark on www.twitter.com/markjpayne

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.