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
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn