Manchester United 4-Feyenoord 0: Red Devils Romp Dutch side in Europa League
Well like they say, its not over until the fat lady sings. Like the man said, Manchester United are not finished yet as far as the Europa League is concerned. Not by a long way. Not when the fire still burns deep within to do what they do best and confound their critics.
On Friday morning, Wayne Rooney is out on his own as Manchester United’s record scorer in Europe.
That goal No.39 came in a comfortable Europa League win over Feyenoord in front of a relatively modest Old Trafford crowd of 64,628, a dozen years after that memorable Champions League hat-trick against Fenerbahce, matters not one jot.
Rooney deserves his place ahead of Ruud van Nistelrooy and a pretty impressive list of names that includes Ryan Giggs, Denis Law, Paul Scholes and Sir Bobby Charlton.
Only Charlton’s all-time record for United remains to be conquered, and surely Rooney has two more goals in him to do it.
His latest personal milestone was reached at the end of an eventful few weeks, even by Rooney’s standards.
The 31-year-old is not the force of nature he once was, no-one would suggest otherwise. But his critics have had a field day.
Dropped by club and country, Rooney has been booed on England duty and written off at United in some quarters. Questions have been asked if he could still do a job for Everton or even the LA Galaxy.
Then there was the small matter of that 5am drinking session in England’s team hotel which led to Rooney accusing his detractors of a lack of respect and ‘trying to write my obituary’.
‘I’m not finished yet,’ he declared last weekend, and what a way this was to prove his point.
Well, he deserves a celebration this time and won’t need a late night wedding invitation to justify raising a glass or two.
In securing another personal accolade, it should not be forgotten that Rooney also helped save United’s bacon in the Europa League, scoring one and setting up the second for Juan Mata as Jose Mourinho’s team avoided the embarrassment of going out of Europe with one game in still remaining.
Late goals from Brad Jones, the Feyenoord keeper who put into his own net, and Jesse Lingard crowned an encouraging night for United that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan answer his own critics with a fine performance.
A point away to Group A underdogs Zorya Luhansk in Ukraine in a fortnight will now be enough to secure a place in the knockout stage.
The landmark goal that took Rooney ahead of Van Nistelrooy arrived 10 minutes before half-time.
The England captain started the move by keeping the ball in play on the left touchline and played it infield to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Rooney was rather fortunate that German referee Manuel Grafe and his assistants did not see a clear push on Renato Tapia that sent Feyenoord’s holding midfielder sprawling and created the space for Ibrahimovic to slip the ball back into his teammate.
The finish was vintage Rooney, though. Cool and clinical. Nothing like the subdued character who had only scored on two other occasions this season. He waited for Jones to rush out of his goal before dinking the ball over him and into the net.
Up to that point, United had dominated possession without finding a way past former Liverpool keeper Jones who tipped Paul Pogba’s rasping drive over the bar, turned away Michael Carrick’s low shot through a crowded penalty box and then thwarted Mkhitaryan at close-range.
In fact, in what was the Dutch side who went closest to an opening goal in the 26th goal minute when Eljero Elia broke down the left and easily beat Phil Jones to slide in a low cross.
Sergio Romero, deputising for David De Gea, blocked Rick Karsdorp’s shot from close-range and then produced a more unorthodox save to turn Dirk Kuyt’s follow-up effort around the post with the outside of his right leg.
Rooney’s goal settled the nerves and Mata so nearly added to United’s lead minutes after the restart with an exquisite chip from 20 yards which forced Jones to backpedal and tip it over the bar.
The Spaniard then had a goal ruled out for offside but he didn’t have to wait much longer as Ibrahimovic played in Rooney in the 70th minute and his lovely reverse pass left Mata with an open goal.
Jones produced a string of saves to keep the score down but was unfortunate to put one in his own net when Ibrahimovic’s low cross from the byeline deflected in off the inside of the Australian’s left foot.
And although he got a hand to Lingard’s curling shot in added time, he could not prevent it creeping in at the near post as United celebrated their biggest win under Mourinho.
Lingard had come on as a substitute for Mkhitaryan who deserved his share of the ovation from the United fans when he and Rooney were withdrawn eight minutes from the end.
The Armenian was making his first start since a miserable debut in the Manchester derby in September, raising questions over the wisdom of signing him for £26million from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.
Mkhitaryan has become something of a curiosity since then, but he visibly grew in confidence as the game wore on, giving Mourinho’s side pace and creativity on the left flank.
The United boss will be hoping it represents a breakthrough moment for Mkhitaryan after emerging from so much scrutiny with great credit.
Wayne Rooney could teach him a thing or two about that.
So its upwards and forwards to the game against Westham at the weekend..will be tough, but United will be up for it.
culled from Dailymail.co.uk