Rooney magic seals United’s derby triumph

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Wayne Rooney’s stunning finish gave Manchester United a 2-1 victory over Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday which left the leaders firmly in control of the title race.

Rooney erased memories of what had been a mediocre performance, personally and by his team, when he produced a moment of genius in the 78th minute.

Paul Scholes found Nani on the right and his cross was dispatched into the top right corner of the City goal by Rooney’s spectacular overhead kick.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are now seven points ahead of second placed Arsenal, who host Wolves later on Saturday, while City are a further point behind and have played a game more than their bitter rivals.

Rooney said: “I think it’s the best goal I’ve ever scored, I saw it coming over and I thought, ‘why not hit it?’.

“I was just delighted to see it go in the net and get the three points. Nine times out of 10 they go into the stand. It’s the first overhead kick I’ve scored since school.”

United’s opening goal, four minutes from the half-time whistle, came largely against the run of play but was just reward for Nani, the Portuguese winger, who had been United’s most dangerous attacking player throughout the first period.

Wide on the right, Nani had often been United’s only potent threat but, when the opener arrived, it came from a long punt through the middle from home goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

Rooney’s strength saw him glance the ball to Ryan Giggs and he flicked on to Nani, who had caught defender Pablo Zabaleta out of position.

Nani kept his composure admirably, advancing before rolling the ball past Joe Hart, left-footed, from a dozen yards.

City looked stunned, and understandably so after they had more than held their own in an opening 45 minutes which laid to rest memories of the awful goalless draw between the clubs at Eastlands earlier this season.

Indeed, the visitors should have been ahead after three minutes. Yaya Toure found Carlos Tevez whose angled pass played in the impressive Silva who, with the goal at his mercy, placed his shot beyond van der Sar, missing the far-post by inches from a tight angle.

That early foray gave City confidence and a Gareth Barry free-kick found the head of Toure at the far post only for the midfielder to turn the ball harmlessly back across the face of goal.

Both sides chanced their arm with long-range shots before United created their first opening, just after the half hour, with John O’Shea’s square ball allowing Giggs the room to cross for Darren Fletcher whose header, at full run, was well kept out on his line by Hart.

Nani’s 20-yard shot tested Hart as it deflected unkindly off Richards, while, before the interval, Silva enjoyed the luck of a deflection from Patrice Evra only to have his follow-up shot blocked by the Frenchman.

The interval brought City some much-needed breathing space and Tevez, a virtual non-factor thus far against his former club, opened the second half with a committed run to the by-line, with his cross being cut out by a home defender.

Silva also had a shot, which van der Sar held comfortably, but City were struggling to rediscover their attacking spark of the first half and, by the hour, Roberto Mancini had brought on Shaun Wright-Phillips and Edin Dzeko as substitutes in a bid to salvage at least a point.

It was a tactical re-shuffle that brought an almost instant dividend, through City’s fortunate 64th minute equaliser.

Wright-Phillips probed down the right, delivering a dangerous cross to the six-yard line where Dzeko swung his foot for an untidy shot which deflected off the back of Silva and into the United goal.

Both sides probed thereafter, without either keeping being forced into a save in anger, until Rooney’s superb solo effort settled the outcome.

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