English Premiership

Rooney scores but sees red

2014-09-27 18:58
Wayne Rooney (AFP)
Wayne Rooney (AFP)

Manchester - Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney scored but was then sent off as his side beat West Ham United 2-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday to record just their second Premier League victory this season.

Rooney, one day short of celebrating his tenth anniversary with United, took his goal well but was shown a straight red card just before the hour by referee Lee Mason after halting a West Ham counter-attack with a reckless high challenge from behind on Stewart Downing.

The contest was already finely poised as Diafra Sakho had responded to goals by Rooney and Robin van Persie and the fact United were required to negotiate the final half hour with only 10 men simply added to manager Louis van Gaal's rude introduction to life in English football.

United appeared to have the game well under control with two goals inside the opening quarter of the contest although, given events at Leicester a week earlier where they had squandered a two-goal cushion in losing 5-3, even die-hard supporters will have taken nothing for granted.

The quality of the two United goals was impressive however as, first, Rafael broke goalwards from the halfway line after five minutes, eventually crossing from the right wing for Rooney who steered in a magnificent right-foot finish from around the penalty spot.

It was England striker Rooney's 175th Premier League goal, leaving him in solitary possession of third place in the division's all-time scoring charts ahead of Thierry Henry and behind only Alan Shearer and Andy Cole.

At this stage, Rooney, made club captain by Dutch boss van Gaal, certainly seemed inspired by the landmark and the occasion, although United's goal owed more to poor decision-making from the visitors than anything else.

After 22 minutes, goalkeeper Adrian chased a loose ball to the corner flag and attempted a clearance which only reached team-mate Alex Song midway inside the London club's half of the field.

Song was quickly dispossessed by Ander Herrera whose pass to Radamel Falcao presented the forward with the choice of feeding the ball through to either Rooney or van Persie.

Falcao opted for the latter, with Dutch striker van Persie eluding Winston Reid before driving the ball beyond the dive of the Hammers' keeper.

But, as has been evident throughout the fledgling Premier League season, United's defensive problems are not just limited to a long injury list which obliged van Gaal to hand a debut to Northern Ireland teenager Paddy McNair at centre-half.

The home side looked susceptible at the back and unforced individual errors compounded matters.

United were fortunate to survive a penalty appeal in the 36th minute after Falcao appeared to handle before, one minute later, West Ham reduced the arrears.

Downing's corner drew an unconvincing attempted clearance from United keeper David de Gea, with Enner Valencia given the opportunity to head against the crossbar before the rebound fell kindly for Sakho to nod home from six yards out.

United's anxiety might have been eased soon after the restart when Falcao's deflected 18-yard volley was kept out only by an acrobatic dive from Adrian.

However it was Sakho who responded with a far-post volley which was well saved by the unsighted de Gea and the dismissal of Rooney moments later breathed new belief into the visitors.

Sakho, again, threatened as his far-post header landed in the side-netting although clear-cut openings for West Ham were limited in the closing stages, aside from an 88th-minute attack when substitutes Carl Jenkinson and Kevin Nolan combined for an 'equaliser' which was ruled out for offside.

Read more on:    english premiership  |  wayne rooney  |  soccer

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