Bayer Leverkusen 0 Manchester United 5: Shinji Kagawa has flair, Ryan Giggs remains a man for all seasons and this team cannot do without Wayne Rooney
Rooney again the man his team cannot do without
Thursday 28 November 2013
Giggs remains a man for all seasons, at least in Europe
Ryan Giggs might not always be the man for the ferocious competition of the Premier League, given David Moyes’ preference for 4-4-2, but his wonderful nous and skill make him a vital player in Europe. Giggs turns 40 on Friday but tonight he was excellent, with clever movement and passing, clearing up danger when Bayer Leverkusen broke but also finding Wayne Rooney in the move for the first goal.
Bayer make Bayern look in a league all of their own
There may not be much of a title race in the Bundesliga this season. Bayer Leverkusen are the second-best team in Germany, four points behind Bayern Munich. But, to judge by this performance, they are a world away from the European champions – negligent in defence, lax in possession, and slow to create anything for Stefan Kiessling. Borussia Dortmund are tiring, too. Bayern could have it won by March.
Rooney again the man his team cannot do without
For all the summer tensions, and the Sir Alex Ferguson fallout, Rooney is Manchester United’s indispensable player. With United’s core missing – Nemanja Vidic, Michael Carrick and Robin Van Persie are all injured – others need to take responsibility for results and that is what Rooney did for the second straight game.
On Sunday in Cardiff he tried to win the game by himself, scoring the first goal and making the second before Cardiff’s last-minute equaliser. Tonight, in Leverkusen, he was in similar mood. Leading the line, but dropping deep, he made both first-half goals with perfect right-footed deliveries from the left – the first for Antonio Valencia, his second an own goal. Then his cleverly weighted pass for Chris Smalling set up the fourth in the second half. United’s midfield might not be perfect but for as long as Rooney plays like this the goals will surely keep coming.
United have momentum to carry through busy month
United have a packed December – with a barely possible nine games – but they will at least take a good run into some rather testing fixtures. They go to White Hart Lane on Sunday, before hosting the dangerous Everton and Newcastle United. Tonight’s performance was their 11th consecutive win and most probably their best performance of that run. Everyone knows the problems – the lack of control in midfield – but Moyes made four midfield changes last night and they looked better, against superior opposition, than they had in Cardiff on Sunday.
This was the same back five as started in Wales and, unless Vidic returns, presumably that will face Tottenham on Sunday lunchtime. Spurs are in some turmoil but United will go there with a solid base and some improving form behind them. If they maintain this they will be well set for the rest of the long month.
Kagawa has flair as No 10, given a chance to show it
It will not always be like this – Moyes, as noted, prefers 4-4-2 – but Shinji Kagawa played as a No 10 tonight and showed just how good he is at it. From his first perfect through ball to an offside Rooney after 30 seconds, he was excellent, winning the ball to start the break for the first goal and well involved in the move for the fourth. A better performance, certainly, than his forays on the left wing.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
Company decides to go for simply scary after criticising other sites for 'creepy and targeted' advertising
Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home
Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday
Latest in Sport
'Adel Taarabt is about three stone overweight. I can't pick him' - Harry Redknapp
QPR vs Liverpool match report: Liverpool snatch victory in seven late minutes of madness
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce calm over lack of new contract
QPR vs Liverpool player ratings: Who was the star man? And did Mario Balotelli emerge with any credit?
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Manchester United striker to glory
- 2 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
- 4 Meet Thea, Norway's 12-year-old child bride
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'