Sheffield Utd 1 Manchester Utd 2: Magic of Rooney leaves the Blades dumbfounded

Warnock's scolded players outclassed by the Red Devils

One of the more flattering things Neil Warnock said about his Sheffield United players last week was - how can we put it - that they might have problems joining Mensa. Intellectually challenged they may be, but yesterday they gave Manchester United an examination that was far from easy.

Warnock's outburst came after two of his players, Paddy Kenny and Alan Quinn, were involved in late-night fights during the week and, true to their newly acquired image, they stood toe to toe with their supposed betters. Not in terms of quality - the Old Trafford side must have been close to setting a Premiership possession record - but in terms of in-your-face obduracy.

Indeed, but for the efforts of Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex Ferguson would have been questioning the thinking of his own team and Sheffield United would been celebrating a famous victory. Thankfully for the harmony in the visiting dressing room, Rooney scored twice to overtake Keith Gillespie's surprise opening goal in the 13th minute.

"Marvellous goals," was Ferguson's verdict of Rooney's strikes, while Warnock was equally effusive. "They were two great finishes from the king," he said. "There were mistakes with both goals, but with anyone but a world-class finisher we would probably have gone unpunished."

The home side had barely crossed the halfway line when they took the lead, yet no one could fault the quality of the goal nor the paradox behind the identity of the scorer. Gillespie might have had a very different career had Ferguson not sold him as part of the deal that brought Andy Cole to Old Trafford, and even then it is difficult to imagine him scoring a better header. Derek Geary thumped a cross from the left and the winger adjusted to send the ball flying past Edwin Van der Sar. Cue 77 minutes of domination by Manchester United that could not have been more complete if the visitors had annexed Bramall Lane. Yet it required two pieces of ruthless finishing from Rooney to profit from this possession.

His first goal, after 30 minutes, was, on the face of it, a simple matter of teeing up Gary Neville's exquisite pass with his left foot and then putting it across Kenny with his right. All this with the England striker running at close to full pelt as he met the ball with a defender inches behind him. To retain his balance and bearings and react in a blur of movement was wonderful.

"To get that goal before half-time gave us confidence," Ferguson said. "It also gave us the patience to wait, which was important."

It was a case of waiting and wondering, because anxiety was beginning to creep through the visiting ranks before Rooney got his second in the 75th minute. This time, United's other fullback, Patrice Evra, supplied the ammunition, crossing over Claude Davis to where Rooney had made a step back to create space. His volley across Kenny flew in at the far post.

With that the game was over, and the visitors should have increased their advantage. Cristiano Ronaldo hit the bar, Paul Scholes had an overhead kick cleared off the line by Phil Jagielka and Ronaldo made a serious bid for the miss of the decade by ballooning a shot from four yards over an open goal.

Not that Ferguson was too concerned, as he could tuck the points in his pocket and prepare for the visit of Chelsea next weekend. "It was important to go into that game with a lead over them," he said. "That is going to be a fantastic game and the whole world will be watching."

And just to get the mind games rolling, he added: "I just hope it's not going to be decided by a refereeing decision."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform