MAN UNITED 4, BAYER LEVERKUSEN 2
David Moyes first venture into the Champions League ended in victory as Manchester United defeated Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen at Old Trafford.
United’s new manager witnessed a measured performance from his side which displayed the efficiency for which the Germans are renowned on a momentous night for Wayne Rooney who scored his 200th goal for the Reds.
After a workmanlike performance for the best part of an hour, United dismantled Leverkusen with three goals in a dazzling 20-minute spell from Robin van Persie, Rooney with his second of the night and Antonio Valencia.
It brought Old Trafford to life as United made the perfect start to Group A which also includes Real Sociedad and Shakhtar Donetsk.
Moyes was delighted with the start to his first European campaign saying: “We played ever so well, scored four goals and may be could have added more.
“It was a great start to win our first game in the Champions League.”
Moyes also paid tribute to Rooney believing he can become a history maker at Old Trafford.
He continued: “Wayne was great and while everybody will be talking about his goals what about his pass for Antonio’s goal.
“I am not a historian, but to be one of only four players to score 200 goals for the club is a great achievement.
“He has the chance to become one of the all-time greats. And if he continues to score like this, he will do it.”
Moyes added for a team to win the Champions League it needs several world-class players and Rooney comes into that category.
“We have to keep adding (world-class players) and to keep the ones we already have,” he added.
United created two early chances as van Persie fired narrowly wide and Chris Smalling’s looping header landed on top of the net.
The breakthrough came midway through the opening period from Patrice Evra’s cross from the left which was met by Rooney who, eight yards out, shot into the ground with the ball bouncing into the roof of the net for his second goal of the campaign.
Rooney came agonisingly close to doubling the lead shortly before half time when he curled a free kick over the defensive wall as it flew just wide of the upright.
And on the stroke of the break, Shinji Kagawa saw an angled shot take a deflection just wide of the far post.
Leverkusen had a great chance but Sidney Sam could only direct his shot straight at keeper David De Gea.
Rooney almost added a second goal after he seized on a slip by defender Omer Toprak and rounded keeper Bernd Leno before firing wide from a tight angle.
It was to prove a costly miss as moments later Leverkusen levelled with only their second clear chance of the night in the 54th minute.
United’s defence failed to clear danger and Simon Rolfes’s shot from outside the box took a deflection off Michael Carrick to leave De Gea stranded.
The equaliser jolted United to life as they played with a sense of urgency which had been lacking as they were back ahead within five minutes.
Antonio Valencia supplied a cross from the right for van Persie to score with an acrobatic shot from 12 yards, though replays showed keeper Leno ought to have prevented the Dutchman scoring his fourth goal of the season.
The pivotal moment of the match came in the 70th minute when De Gea pulled off a super save to deny substitute Lars Bender and United broke away to make it 3-1.
A poor defensive header from Emir Spahic let in Rooney who from the left of the box placed a terrific shot inside the near post of Leno’s goal for his 200th as he joined Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and Jack Rowley in the elite 200 club.
Leverkusen scored a second late on following a piece of shambolic defending as Stefan Reinartz’s header hit the crossbar and Omer Toprak fired home the rebound, though it proved academic in the final analysis.