Soccer

Rooney stars in United's win

2013-01-17 06:59
Wayne Rooney (AFP)

Manchester - Wayne Rooney returned from injury to secure Manchester United's place in the FA Cup fourth round with the only goal in a 1-0 win over West Ham United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The England international scored early in the first half to ensure United did not exit from the competition in this third round replay, but his late penalty miss ensured a nervous finish for the record 11-time FA Cup winners.

United manager Alex Ferguson used his programme notes to dismiss suggestions his side had become a "one-man team" thanks to Robin van Persie, despite the Dutchman scoring 21 goals already this season.

One of those goals was when van Persie came off the bench to rescue a draw with a stunning late effort in the original third round tie between the teams at Upton Park forced United's first FA Cup replay since 2007.

Van Persie was back on the bench for the replay at Old Trafford with Ferguson making 10 changes to the side, including the return from injury of both Rooney and Nani.

Rafael was the only survivor from United's 2-1 win over Liverpool on Sunday while West Ham manager Sam Allardyce made six changes ahead of a London derby against QPR on Saturday.

The Hammers would have loved an early goal to have a real chance of a surprise result but they squandered a superb opportunity after eight minutes.

Ricardo Vaz Te had the ball in space on the edge of the area but struck a timid shot that was comfortably saved by United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard.

Just a minute later, the home side punished the visitors and it was Rooney, in his first game since suffering a knee injury on Christmas Day in training, who got the opener.

A superb pass from Anderson sent Javier Hernandez clear down the left and the Mexican forward unselfishly squared the ball to the on-rushing Rooney who slid in to tap home into the net for his 10th goal of the season.

Rooney paid a poignant tribute to his wife Coleen's recently deceased 14-year-old sister as he pointed to the sky in his celebration.

Nani was then denied a stunning goal in the 28th minute after a clever ball from Antonio Valencia set the Portuguese midfielder up for a volley which beat West Ham keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen only for Daniel Potts to clear off the line.

Rooney then gave Jaaskelainen work to do just before the break with a low effort the Hammers goalkeeper palmed away.

West Ham had shouts for a penalty just after the restart when Rafael appeared to handle in the area but referee Phil Dowd waved away protests and the Brazilian defender then set-up Hernandez.

The Mexican capitalised on a mistake by Hammers defender Alou Diarra but, the United forward cleared the bar with his shot when in space.

Matt Taylor then got caught in two minds when the Hammers midfielder found himself in possession in United's area, and when he finally decided to square the ball, Rafael was on hand to clear.

Hernandez was given another chance in the 67th minute when he stole the ball from Potts but the United frontman was closed down by Jaaskelainen.

With 12 minutes to go United were given the chance to seal the game when Jordan Spence blocked a cross from Ryan Giggs with his hand in the area.

Rooney then scuffed the penalty over the bar, looking to the ground in what appeared to be an attempt to blame the pitch, but thankfully for him United held on and will face another Premier League side in Fulham at Old Trafford in the fourth round.

Read more on:    manchester united  |  fa cup  |  wayne rooney  |  soccer
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