Bayer Leverkusen 0 Manchester United 5 match report: Wayne Rooney claims four assists in Champions League victory

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The Premier League champions advance to the knock-out stage with a game to spare

The BayArena

David Moyes seems to be getting the hang of the Champions League. Tonight the new Manchester United manager watched his team ease through the group stages with a game in hand by virtue of their biggest away victory in Europe in 49 years.

That was a 6-1 win in another part of the German Ruhr, against Borussia Dortmund, in the long-defunct Inter-Cities Fairs' Cup. In Europe's elite competition it was their best away win since the Busby Babes scored six at Shamrock Rovers in 1957 a few months before they were cut down at Munich.

One match does not a season make, but this was an undeniably impressive win against a team that had previously won every home game this season except for one – a draw against all-conquering Bayern Munich.

What will have particularly impressed the United manager – and his predecessor who was in attendance – was that this was achieved in the absence of several leading players including Robin van Persie.

The Dutchman would strengthen any side, but without him Moyes was able to partner Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa in their favoured positions and the pair dovetailed beautifully being involved in several of the goals without, oddly, either of them scoring. Antonio Valencia, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Nani did, with, as if to sum up Bayer's night, an own goal being conceded amidst the rout.

With several key personnel unavailable, and a testing fixture at White Hart Lane looming, Moyes will have pondered his team selection even more carefully than usual though the back four effectively picked itself once he decided to deploy Phil Jones in a midfield area depleted by the absence of Michael Carrick (injury) and Marouance Fellaini (suspension). Alongside he fielded Ryan Giggs, 40 on Friday. Jones was not even born in 1991 when Giggs made his debuts for both United and Wales.

With Danny Welbeck and Persie absent Rooney shouldered the load in attack with Kagawa given a rare opportunity to shine in his preferred No.10 position. The Japanese clearly revelled in the opportunity belying the indolence sometimes associated with the role by covering more ground than anyone else on the pitch, 12.5km..

Antonio Valencia started the rout for United (AP) Antonio Valencia started the rout for United (AP)
Running around a lot is one thing, it still has to be effective. Kagawa showed he was more than just a metronome when, midway through the half, he made United's opening goal with a clever, powerful break. The goal was timely as Leverkusen had begun to press after a quiet opening.

United had threatened first after 16 minutes. Evans brought down a long ball and swiftly transferred it to Patrice Evra who made ground on the left. Though Evra's pass inside was slightly behind Giggs the veteran recovered to set up Nani, but his shot flew just over.

Sami Hyypia had chosen South Korean striker Heung-Min Son to replace Sidney Sam in attack, rather than Australia's Robbie Kruse, and it seemed a good choice when, two minutes later, he dummied Evans to receive a neat pass that Lars Bender had delivered under pressure. Though Son's shot was deflected wide, and from the corner Stefan Reinartz headed over, Bayer were encouraged.

Stefan Kiessling, an awkward-looking but useful striker, then shambled his way through an ineffectual tackle by Rio Ferdinand and seemed sure to score, only for Evans to block his shot at the last-ditch. It proved a critical interception. The subsequent corner was punched clear by David De Gea for a throw-in. When Evans headed that away the ball soon fell towards Reinartz but Kagawa hustled him off it then led the counter-attack. Having attacked the space, and opened more up, he fed Giggs who moved the ball onto Rooney. His chip eluded everyone but Valencia who tapped in off the back post.

Emir Spahic guides Wayne Rooney’s free kick into Leverkusen’s net for an own goal (AP) Emir Spahic guides Wayne Rooney’s free kick into Leverkusen’s net for an own goal (AP)
United almost doubled their lead within a minute after a clever free-kick routine on the left involving Rooney, Giggs and Kagawa. Unfortunately it ended with the ball falling to Jones, then Evans, both of whose tame shots were blocked. No matter. On the half-hour Rooney took a free-kick from by the left touchline,30 yards from goal. It dipped dangerously towards the penalty spot and Emir Spahic, trying to prevent Chris Smalling heading the ball, glanced it into his own net. United were now in command and Bernd Leno had to go full-stretch to prevent Valencia adding a third just before the break.

United, expecting a post-interval push from Leverkusen, were happy to defend in the opening stages of the second period, hoping to snatch a third goal and kill the tie on the break. This was almost achieved shortly before the hour when Nani intercepted a loose pass, played a one-two with Rooney, and shot just wide of the far post.

Nani rounds the Leverkusen keeper, Bernd Leno, to score United's fifth (Getty) Nani rounds the Leverkusen keeper, Bernd Leno, to score United's fifth (Getty)
However, the sit-back policy almost handed Bayer a goal back soon after as Reinartz and Spahic hit the post in quick succession from a corner, though there was a possibility offside would have ruled out the latter attempt. In response United stepped up a gear and, after Rooney bent a 20-yard shot just wide of the post, they settled the tie with a goal Sami Hyypia, the former Liverpool centre-half now managing Leverkusen, will be furious about. Giggs' corner was met by Evra whose header fell to Rooney. His shot was saved by Leno, but Evans calmly walked the loose ball around the 'keeper's arms to score. None of the quartet had needed to hold off a defender.

United then picked their opponents off at will. Eleven minutes later Kagawa and Rooney combined for Smalling to tap in. Jones and Anderson could each have added a fifth, but for an acrobatic save by Leno and woeful finishing respectively. It was so one-sided Moyes could re-introduce Ashley Young for his first action since the dive at Real Sociedad, and end with Nani at centre-forward. The Portuguese rewarded Moyes' choice by running onto a Giggs through ball, rounding the 'keeper, and scoring the fifth. Like Evans and Smalling it was his first goal of a season that suddenly looks far more promising.

Booked: Bayer Leverkusen Kohr.

Man of the match Rooney.

Match rating 8/10.

Possession: BL 48% Man United 52%.

Attempts on target: BL 4 Man United 13.

Referee S O Moen (Nor).

Attendance 26,000.

United's top five European away wins in Europe

This was United biggest win in Europe home or away since winning 7-1 against Roma 2006-07

United have played more than 150 away matches in Europe.

6-0 v Shamrock Rovers, European Cup, 1957-58

6-0 v Djurgarden, Inter-Cities' Fairs' Cup, 1964-65

6-1 v Borussia Dortmund, Inter-Cities' Fairs' Cup, 1964-65

5-0 v Strasborg, Inter-Cities' Fairs' Cup, 1964-65

5-0 Bayer Leverkusen, Champions League, 2013-14

Suggested Topics
News
University Edible Garden, Leeds – a sustainable garden in the centre of the university, passers-by can help themselves to the home-grown produce
newsFrom a former custard factory to a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz