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

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.


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