Rooney fear takes shine off United's late triumph

Ferguson admits striker is struggling to be fit for key contest with Liverpool
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The Independent Football

Wayne Rooney faces an uphill battle to be fit for Manchester United's vital encounter with Liverpool it emerged last night after he missed the club's 1-0 victory over CSKA Moscow that came through a late goal from Antonio Valencia. United were comfortable winners on the artificial pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium, scene of their Champions League triumph 17 months ago, while at Stamford Bridge Chelsea thrashed Atletico Madrid 4-0.

Rooney however sat out United's match and is struggling to recover from the calf injury he sustained while playing for England in Ukraine two weeks ago. Unless he is judged to be fully fit, United are unlikely to take a gamble on him at Anfield on Sunday.

Darren Fletcher and Ryan Giggs are also both doubtful but Patrice Evra, who also missed last night's game, is expected to return, as is Rio Ferdinand, who was taken off after an hour in Moscow with an eye on Premier League duties.

"We are very pleased with our performance," said Ferguson of United's win. "We now have a home game against CSKA in two or three weeks' time which we hope can take us to the next stage." Ferguson praised the contribution of match-winner Valencia who has had a slow start to his United career, but is now beginning to thrive. "He has been the plus point for the last two weeks," said Ferguson. "He is settling into the club, his confidence is stronger and he has tremendous assets for a wee player – strength, balance, feet and a good crosser of the ball. The area he hadn't shown was goalscoring ability. We said when we signed him this was his challenge to progress as a footballer. Now he has scored two in two games and that will help him."

At Chelsea Frank Lampard ended his 13-game run without a goal for club and country in the club's 4-0 rout of Atletico Madrid. Salomon Kalou scored twice and Luis Perea netted an own goal as Chelsea completed their most convincing victory under Carlo Ancelotti. Lampard's strike was his 133rd Chelsea goal, moving him ahead of Jimmy Greaves in the club records. Lampard said: "Sometimes the goals don't come and it's been like that for me recently. When you don't score, people ask questions. Sometimes my finishing hasn't been quite what it was last season so I kept plugging away."

Ancelotti said he was more impressed with Lampard's work-rate than his goal. The Italian said: "He's important because he works for 90 minutes for the team. He's very generous, an unselfish player, and that's important."

Ancelotti admitted Kalou, in for the suspended Didier Drogba, had been guilty of a glaring miss early in the game, but recovered well to score twice. The Chelsea manager said: "He started the game 'no good' because he made a big mistake, but he maintained good motivation and good focus to score twice after that."

Chelsea yesterday asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport to hold back from imposing Fifa's transfer ban for the Kaukuta scandal while the club's appeal is heard, which could allow Ancelotti to sign players in the January window. The club are banned from making purchases until 2011 after being found guilty of illegally acquiring Lens' Gael Kakuta in 2007.

Elsewhere in the Champions League, Raul equalled Gerd Muller's 32-year-old record of 66 goals in the three main European club competitions when he scored against Milan at the Bernabeu. But his achievement was overshadowed by two goals from the Brazilian Pato and a long-range strike by Andrea Pirlo that gave Milan a surprise 3-2 win.