BAYER LEVERKUSEN 0, MANCHESTER UNITED 5
Wayne Rooney was in devastating form providing assists for four goals in what turned out to be an easy romp for Manchester United away to Leverkusen. With Robin Van Persie still injured he was ably partnered by Shinji Kagawa who pulled the strings in his favoured number 10 role behind Rooney as United defied their critics and blew away their hosts to record their biggest ever away win in the Champions League.
Goals for Antonio Valencia, Johnny Evans, Chris Smalling and Nani plus an own goal by Emir Spahic ensured that United qualified for the knockout phase in style.
Phil Jones and Ryan Giggs, who turns 40 on Friday, played in a makeshift midfield for United with Michael Carrick injured and Marouane Fellaini suspended and they were under the cosh for much of the early stages of this game but, with Sir Alex Ferguson watching, produced two moments of counter attacking magic to critically hit the home side in the first half. What looked like a tricky tie on paper quickly became a stroll for United who went on to put the tie to bed during the second half.
Manchester United took the lead against the run of play with a goal by Antonio Valencia after 22 minutes. Forgotten man Kagawa made it with an unchallenged stroll through the Leverkusen half before releasing the ball to evergreen Giggs who pushed it to Rooney wide on the left. Rooney’s cross was out of reach for Kagawa but not for Valencia who put United in the lead with a scrappy shot that went in off the post.
United extended their lead on the half hour mark with another deadly delivery by Rooney, this time from a set piece which was given the merest of touches on by Smalling before it went in off the head of the unlucky Spahic.
It all looked comfortable for some time for United but Leverkusen reminded them that they were not to be trifled with on the hour mark when a corner was flicked on by Stefan Reinartz, off Giggs and against the post with Spahic offside in the follow-up.
United were keen to finish the tie, though and Rooney nutmegged Germany International Simon Rolfes before curling an effort just wide. Rooney was there again to help force a save from Bernd Leno after Patrice Evra flicked a corner on. Evans was at hand to tap in the loose ball in the 66th minute.
Just over ten minutes later, Leverkusen were done for after losing possession. Kagawa found Rooney in space and the England man opted to pass to Smalling for a simple tap-in.
Anderson, on for Rooney late on, could have made it five but fluffed his lines before Nani added the fifth after latching onto Giggs’ ball over the top, rounding Leno, and sidefooting home from an acute angle.