Wayne Rooney wondergoal – Source: Sportimage
West Ham United 0-2 Manchester United
Saturday 22 March 2014
Manchester United returned to league action after beating Olympiacos to get into the Champions League Quarter Finals. England international Wayne Rooney kept up the feel good factor with two goals to see off West Ham. His second moved him to 212 goals for United, putting him into third place on the club’s all-time top scorers list. He surpassed Jack Rowley who scored 211 times for the club from 1937 to 1955. Now only Denis Law – with 237 from 1962 to 1973 – and Sir Bobby Charlton -with 249 from 1956 to 1973 – are ahead of the 28 year old now.
It was Rooney’s stunning first goal that will live on forever in memory. The England man produced a goal similar to David Beckham’s wonder-goal at Wimbledon in 1996. Rooney’s goal arguably required more technique because it was hit on the volley rather than with the ball under control on the ground. Rather fittingly, the club legend himself was there to witness the goal in person. Rooney’s performance was certainly a timely boost as United had just lost Van Persie for up to six weeks with a sprained knee. That will put him out of both legs of the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich.
His absence was one of six changes from the victory over Olympiacos. Another one of those changes was the introduction of the very impressive Marouane Fellaini. The big man came very close to putting United in front after barely three minutes. His powerful header was cleared off the line by Andy Carroll. David Moyes’ side continued to have the upper hand as Shinji Kagawa collected a poor clearance from James Tomkins and then freed Juan Mata. However, Adrian did well to keep out his fellow Spaniard.
Unfortunately for him, he was helpless as United took a deserved lead when Rooney probably secured his success in this year’s Goal of the Season contest. He won a duel with Tomkins on the half-way line and turned quickly to spot Adrian off his line and hit a wonderful swerving one-bounce half-volley and into the goal from at least 50 yards. A speechless David Beckham watched on from a luxury box and smiled wryly at a goal similar to his own famous goal, which is still talked about 18 years on.
After the shock of conceding such an incredible goal, West Ham went in search of the equalizer. Mohamed Diame saw a shot blocked by Alexander Buttner. Andy Carroll glanced a Kevin Nolan free kick just wide and then powerfully headed straight at David De Gea moments later. Diame lost his feet just as he was about to shoot, as the home side continued to press. However, United were still very much a threat on the counter. When they attacked, they did so quickly with much more penetration than has witnessed for much of this campaign.
Rooney, Kagawa and the outstanding Mata combined very well. The latter two combined for United’s next chance, as Mata released Kagawa, who’s left foot shot was saved by Adrian. Mata was next to test the West Ham shot-stopper as he stung his palms with a fierce drive after getting free of Diame’s challenge. The visitors did not have long to wait for goal number two. West Ham’s Kevin Nolan went down easily in the box claiming a penalty which was waved away by referee Lee Mason. United immediately broke away with Rooney releasing Ashley Young. The wide man sent in a low cross which Mark Noble could only play straight into the path of the on-rushing Rooney, who adjusted well to easily tuck home in the 33rd minute.
Rooney could have had a first half hat-trick but failed with three more efforts. West Ham huffed and puffed after the break but United’s somewhat makeshift back four – which included central midfielder Michael Carrick at centre half – held firm. Rooney and Mata were taken off, no dobut with Tuesday’s Manchester derby in mind. Rooney’s replacement Javier Hernandez could have scored twice. First kagawa failed to pick him out at the far post after another flowing move, and then the Mexican failed to make a clean contact when put clear with Adrian racing from his goal. The excellent Fellaini – who did an outstanding job of marshaling Andy Carroll all game – should have had a late penalty awarded when he put himself in the clear with some great play. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, he was taken out from behind. Referee Mason disagreed but it mattered not, as David Moyes’ side secured a third successive away win in the league, and deservedly so.
Man Of The Match: Marouane Fellaini’s put in an excellent all-round performance. The giant Belgian screened well in front of Carrick And Jones, effectively marked Carroll from all set-pieces – dropped back into open play to take Carroll out, and displayed neat and tidy in possession. His play allowed Mata and Kagawa in particular to flourish. He could easily have had a couple of goals. He had a header cleared of the line early on in the game and right at the end was brought down just before getting a shot away. He just needs a run of games now to show his worth, after an injury plaged season.
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