By Andrew Embling
- Rooney goal takes him equal with Denis Law on 237 goals for United
- Win takes United top of the group as Wolfsburg suffer 2-0 defeat against PSV
Wayne Rooney joined Denis Law in equal second on Manchester United’s all time goalscoring list as his headed goal gave United a narrow win against CSKA Moscow.
The United captain headed the only goal with 11 minutes to go in a game the home side dominated from start to finish. Rooney almost silenced his critics early as he swivelled and shot just wide after three minutes after good build up work down the United left.
The United skipper almost profited from a weak back pass moments later as United made a bright start against a Moscow side who looked nervy in the opening few minutes.
Rooney was in the heart of everything in the opening minutes, slipping the ball through for Lingard, but the United man was just beaten to the ball by Akinfeev, who made an important save.
Moscow were happy to sit back and allow United possession, but it almost cost them as Mata stretched to connect with Blind’s raking ball from deep, but didn’t quite get enough on it to beat Akinfeev.
United were dominating, Schweinsteiger winning a free kick after a forceful run which saw Smalling fail to get enough contact on Rooney’s delivery as the home side probed for the opening goal.
The Red Devils were playing some penetrative football, but Lingard blasted over after Young’s cross as they continued to miss chances.
United players were queuing up at times, Rojo the next to shun the chance as he scuffed a volley at the far post from Young’s cross when he had time to bring the ball down.
The home side started where they left off at the start of the second half, Rojo heading a glorious chance wide from Rooney’s corner. Rojo then turned provider as Martial headed straight at Akinfeev from the defender’s cross.
Musa had Moscow’s first real effort at goal, but his hopeful shot was well off target from distance as they started to show more desire to get something from the game.
Van Gaal rang the changes, but the United faithful were less than impressed as Martial was replaced by Fellaini and made their feelings known.
With the crowd crying out for United to attack, the men in red thought they should have had a penalty as Rooney went down with his shirt being pulled by two Moscow defenders.
The frustration was building, Rooney somehow failing to get the finish right after Mata’s pass across goal. Young went over in the area but saw his appeal waived away before Carrick was a whisker away with a volley from the edge of the area as United kept pressing for the goal they needed.
But CSKA almost caught United with a sucker punch as Doumbia broke free and shot at goal, de Gea making a brilliant save before Doumbia’s follow up was somehow cleared by Smalling’s desperate slide.
It looked like United were going to be frustrated, but it finally came good as Lingard crossed early to Rooney who headed home to break the deadlock and score his 237th goal for the club, level with Denis Law on the all-time list.
Suddenly United were electric and Lingard tested Akinfeev from the edge of the area with a rasping drive.
De Gea showed safe hands from a late header as Moscow tried in vain for an equaliser as United moved to the top of the group knowing that a win next time round would secure their place in the knockout stages.
Manchester United: De Gea, Young, Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Schweinsteiger (Herrera 88), Carrick, Mata (Memphis 73), Rooney, Martial (Fellaini 66) Substitutes Not Used: Romero, Jones, Darmian, Pereira