Man Utd 1-0 CSKA Moscow: Wayne Rooney ends six-hour goal drought
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 04/11/15 9:45am
Manchester United's dismal form in front of goal was brought to a timely end as Wayne Rooney's second-half header sealed a narrow 1-0 victory over CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford in the Champions League.
Six hours and 44 minutes of football had elapsed since United last found the back of the net, coincidentally in the reverse fixture against CSKA in Moscow, before Rooney headed Jesse Lingard's cross home on 79 minutes.
Despite United dominating large spells, the game hinged on an action-packed minute prior to Rooney's goal, with David de Gea and Chris Smalling both denying Seydou Doumbia with last-gasp blocks before the hosts forced the breakthrough.
And the victory proved to be vital in terms of the Reds' Champions League hopes, moving them into top spot of Group B with ties against PSV and Wolfsburg remaining.
United headed into the game looking to avoid a fourth consecutive goalless draw, something which has never happened in the club's history.
No sooner had the famous Champions League anthem sounded at Old Trafford, than chants of 'attack, attack, attack' could be heard from the United faithful, signalling their expectations from Louis van Gaal's goal-shy side.
And United took heed, with Rooney and Anthony Martial coming close to breaking the deadlock in a dominant opening 10 minutes by the hosts, with Rooney dragging a shot wide three minutes in before Igor Akinfeev rushed off his line to thwart Martial.
CSKA sat deep and looked to catch United on the counter, a tactic the visitors struggled to administer from their deep-lying defensive position.
And that allowed United to throw bodies forward as Juan Mata came close to turning Daley Blind's raking pass into the back of the net on 16 minutes, before Ashley Young provided Lingard and the adventurous Marcos Rojo with chances that went on to be spurned.
United broke through the six-hour barrier without scoring a goal before the interval as nervousness descended on Old Trafford and, having seen their side take the foot off the gas, the half-time whistle was met with the same chant from the fans to which the half had started.
The break did little to rejuvenate the Reds, with Lingard and Martial wasting decent chances immediately after the restart.
The introduction of Doumbia, who started the game on the bench due a thigh strain, on 56 minutes then meant United had to deal with a real threat defensively.
Martial's substitution was greeted by a chorus of boos but United built a head of steam after, with Lingard and Mata combining brilliantly to set up Rooney on 71 minutes, but the United captain got the ball stuck under his feet, failing to turn the ball home from four yards.
Then came the game's defining moment as, having been put through on goal, Doumbia had his effort saved by De Gea before Smalling's block on the line prevented the Ivory Coast international from converting the rebound.
And it proved to be a pivotal as Carrick and Lingard combined to set up Rooney for the winner in front of the Stretford End less than a minute later to seal a first home victory for United against Russian opposition.