Rooney At The Double: Man Utd beat Roma 3-2
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal handed Tom Cleverly the captain band as his team took on Roma but it was Wayne Rooney who stole the show with two goals and an assist as the Red Devils won their opening group game of the International Champions Cup 3-2.
Miralem Pjanic’s wonder strike from 70 yards was the highlight of the game but Rooney was not going to be denied his man of the match award. The English forward hauled United to victory with two stellar contributions towards the end of the first half.
A terrific Rooney goal – only made possible by perfect technique – from 25 yards and then an even better pass to Juan Mata helped United in to a 2-0 lead. Then, after a foul on Danny Welbeck, Rooney drilled the second penalty of his tour past the Roma goalkeeper in the 44th minute.
The 54,117 fans inside the Sports Authority Field, however had to watch for over 40 minutes a disjointed performance from Van Gaal’s side.
United had two early scares from a Roma team that pinned them back for most of an opening half that would have been filed under “disappointing” until two strikes from Wayne Rooney and a Juan Mata finish allowed the manager’s XI to enter the break 3-0 ahead.
With Van Gaal using the 3-5-2 formation he has promised will be the norm once the Barclays Premier League season starts, United’s central defenders were not on the same page at all as Salih Ucan played Seydou Keita in behind young Tyler Blackett for a clear run on goal.
The second scare involved Ander Herrera, who had starred in United’s 7-0 win over LA Galaxy on Wednesday in Pasadena, but was dispossessed too easily by Ucan. The midfielder did the right thing by scurrying back to tackle the forward but the scrappiness in these opening exchanges proved the underlying theme of United’s display.
Blackett and Johnstone continually made errors – the goalkeeper had a concerning issue with iffy clearances – while Tom Cleverley’s touch was close to non-existent.
Nominated as captain for the day, as Cleverley was one of only two who was told he would play the 90 minutes – Blackett was the other.
As he had promised, Van Gaal made nine changes at half-time. Only Cleverley and Blackett remained. Roma, meanwhile, introduced five new players including former Chelsea defender Ashley Cole at left-back.
But Cleverly may have only taken the field for the second half due to his manager’s pre-match declaration but was substituted by the manager in the second half.
It was, however, a later substitute, the Bosnian midfielder Pjanic, who lifted the crowd to their feet with 15 minutes left, beating Ben Amos from ten yards inside his own half with a perfect lob that David Beckham would have been proud of.
Amos was to redeem himself rather with a late save from a Leandor Castan overhead kick but Francesco Totti reduced the deficit to one with a late penalty after Michael Keane handled in the area.