[Champions League] Manchester United 4-2 Bayer Leverkusen
ManUtd: Wayne Rooney (22, 70), Robin van Persie (59), Antonio Valencia (79)
Bayer: Simon Rolfes (54), Omer Toprak (87)
The Reds kicked off the 2013/14 European campaign with a 4-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen as Wayne Rooney reached the 200-goal mark for the club.
In David Moyes’ first Champions League game as boss, United secured a hard-fought win in their opening Group A game thanks to a Rooney double and a strike apiece from Robin van Persie and Antonio Valencia.
After a pretty even opening 20 minutes, Rooney broke the deadlock in the 22nd, volleying home Patrice Evra’s left-wing cross after excellent work from Robin van Persie in the build-up. Rooney and Kagawa went close to doubling the advantage in quick succession just before the break, and soon after the restart Rooney somehow failed to find the goal or van Persie when he rounded Leverkusen keeper Bernd Leno after pinching the ball from Omer Toprak.
United were made to pay seconds later when Leverkusen captain Simon Rolfes curled a 25-yard shot past David De Gea, via a wicked deflection off Michael Carrick. It wasn’t long before the Reds were back in front though with a rare strike in front of the Stretford End for van Persie, his first there since Stoke last season. It came via a cross from Valencia with van Persie hooking an excellent right-foot volley past Leno, who got a touch to it but couldn’t keep it out.
Rooney fired his landmark strike on 70 minutes, finishing with aplomb after Leverkusen failed to deal with De Gea’s long punt upfield, before he teed up Valencia to blast home the fourth. There was still time for Leverkusen to grab a second through Toprak and van Persie to miss an open goal, but the most important thing was three points for United.
The match The Reds kicked off the 2013/14 Champions League campaign with exactly the result needed – a victory. Moyes’ men were made to fight for the three points for 60 minutes or so, but in the end a Wayne Rooney brace and a goal each from Robin van Persie and Antonio Valencia ensured a comfortable result.
Goals Wayne Rooney notched goal number 199 and 200 for United after an inspired display from the England international. Van Persie netted his first goal in front of the Stretford End since last October, while Antonio Valencia got on the scoresheet for the first time this season with an excellent low drive after a sweeping move for United’s fourth.
Sub-plot Against a team managed by former Liverpool stalwart Sami Hyypia, it was the perfect result in David Moyes’ first Champions League game as United boss. Seeing Rooney net his 200th goal in a red shirt was the icing on the cake for Moyes.
Star men Marouane Fellaini did well on his Champions League debut, while Robin van Persie also shone. But tonight was all about Wayne Rooney. The striker, who was on song throughout, kicked off the scoring with a well-taken volley before firing the third – his 200th for the club – and setting up Valencia for the fourth.
The opposition The Germans played a patient game at Old Trafford, allowing United to come at them before picking their moment to win possession. When they did, they threw men forward in large numbers, counter-attacking at pace and using the left flank to good effect. Unfortunately for Leverkusen, they proved their own worst enemy after equalising shortly after half-time: both United’s second and third goals could easily have been prevented with better goalkeeping/defending.
Move of the match The move for United’s fourth goal was brilliant. After substitute Ashley Young had bombed down the left and found Rooney darting forward through the middle, the striker nudged the ball sideways for Valencia to blast a low shot past the helpless Bernd Leno in the Leverkusen goal.
In the stands German fans have a reputation for being loyal and loud and Leverkusen's travelling supporters didn't disappoint, despite the fact not all their allocation was taken up. They sung throughout the match, playing their part in helping to make this occasion memorable. Meanwhile, United fans’ support for summer signing Marouane Fellaini continued in the stands, with plenty of black wigs spotted in the crowd. Sir Alex once again made an appearance in the directors’ box.