Rooney and Nani get Manchester United back on track

Manchester United 4 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1: Wolves powerless to prevent Ferguson's men looking like their old selves as Red Devils suffer no Swiss hangover after crashing out of the Champions' League

Old Trafford

United's season may have been holed below the waterline in Basle, but at least for the moment it remains upright. The last time Sir Alex Ferguson's team failed to survive the group phase of the Champions' League, six years ago, they were unbeaten in their next 10 matches and, given that this was the first of a run of five meetings with teams in the bottom end of the Premier League, their manager will demand a comparable recovery.

Ferguson sent out a side showing four changes in the wake of the Swiss catastrophe – one enforced by the injury to Nemanja Vidic. He persevered with Phil Jones in central midfield, preferring to recall Jonny Evans to partner Rio Ferdinand in the middle of the defence. Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-sung and Ashley Young were left on the bench, with the most telling recall that of Antonio Valencia on the right wing.

He and Nani, on the opposite flank, were the key to victory, combined with the return to goalscoring form of Wayne Rooney, who matched Nani by scoring twice to end a run of eight League matches without a goal. A ninth blank would have made it his longest barren sequence since he moved to Old Trafford.

The other run broken was the team's stretch of seven consecutive League games with no more than one goal, the regret for Ferguson being that the upturn in their efficiency near goal had not come three days sooner. "On Wednesday we worked our socks off and didn't get the breaks, today we worked our socks off and did get the breaks," he said. "The second goal relaxed everyone and some of the football we played was fantastic.

"There is no question they were very disappointed after Wednesday and to come back like that is a good thing for them. You hope now that Rooney and Nani, who both scored a lot of goals in the early part of the season, can go on a spurt again."

In truth, it was not much of a test for United, not that they particularlyneeded one. If Ferguson could have chosen an opponent against whom to launch a fightback, it would have been one fitting Wolves' description: poor travellers with fragile confidence. They arrived on a run of five straight away defeats and no win at Old Trafford since 1980.

United may have tended to squander chances lately but Wolves offered them plenty, even though the first attempt on goal came from Steven Fletcher, their own man, in the opening minute. Stretched from the outset as United attacked the full-backs, the visitors left too much space in the middle, and after Michael Carrick had headed narrowly over and Wayne Hennessey was required to make two saves from Rooney within the first 15 minutes, it seemed the opening goal would not be long coming.

It arrived after 17 minutes as Nani, picking up the ball wide on the left from a corner hit deep, skipped along the edge of the Wolves box, passing three defenders before aiming for the left-hand corner of goal with a right-foot shot you could only assume Hennessey did not see until late.

The second arrived 10 minutes later. Again, Wolves did not close down effectively, allowing Rooney to receive Nani's pass and release an angled shot which carried no particular pace but was placed well enough again to get past Hennessey.

United had been so comfortable it was a surprise that the second half began with a goal for Wolves from the head of Fletcher, who now boasts a run of 11 in 15 matches, which is at least encouragement to Mick McCarthy to believe he has enough resources to stay up. Rising to meet Matt Jarvis's cross from the left, Fletcher outjumped Patrice Evra and, with David de Gea rooted to the ground, looped a header over Evans and Ferdinand into the net.

You wondered if there might be some vulnerability of temperament that Wolves might expose, but such thoughts were not allowed to developfor long. Before the hour mark had been reached, Nani had restored United's two-goal lead. Jones released Valencia along the right and his low cross was swept home by the Portuguese from close range.

Four minutes later, Valencia produced another telling raid along the right that Wolves were powerless to repel. His cross found Rooney at the far post and the United striker accepted the opportunity, screwing the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.

By now, United were strolling, and Ferguson was at liberty to relieve a few tired legs, with a hint of defiance, you suspected, in his first substitutionas Evra gave way for the last 23 minutes to allow a first taste of the Premier League for another of his young pretenders, the 19-year-old Ezekiel Fryers.

Manchester United (4-4-2): De Gea; Smalling, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra (Fryers, 67); Valencia, Carrick, Jones, Nani (Young, 77); Rooney, Welbeck (Macheda, 74).

Wolves (4-4-2): Hennessey; Zubar, Johnson, Berra, Ward; Edwards (Milijas, 32), O'Hara (Hunt, 71), Henry, Jarvis; Fletcher (Ebanks-Blake, 77), Doyle.

Referee: Michael Oliver.

Man of the match: Nani (Manchester Utd)

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on Scotland's oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
News
news

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballThe latest scores and Twitter updates from tonight’s games, featuring Bayern Munich vs Man City and Chelsea vs Schalke
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
i100
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week