By Jonathan Caswell at Old Trafford
Wayne Rooney marked his Manchester United FC debut with a sensational hat-trick, his first senior competitive treble, as the English side collected their opening win in this year's UEFA Champions League in a lively Group D encounter with Fenerbahçe SK.
Amid a buzzing Old Trafford atmosphere, all eyes were on teenaged England striker Rooney as his team-mates tried to involve him from the start. But it was fellow forward Ruud van Nistelrooij who had the first attempt after five minutes - turning on a through ball but shooting tamely into the arms of Rüstü Reçber.
Three minutes later it was the European veteran of this United side, Ryan Giggs, who put the two-time champions in front. Eric Djemba-Djemba won the ball in his own half, fed Kleberson down the left and his cross was met by the marauding Giggs, whose brilliant header flew into the corner of the net.
A minute later, Rooney showed the crowd what he could do, with a trademark run from deep only for his shot to be cleared for a corner. Six minutes later he was at it again, picking the ball up on the edge of the Fenerbahçe area, showing Deniz Baris a clean pair of heels, evading the on-rushing goalkeeper but lifting his shot over the bar.
Rooney eventually made it 2-0 just three minutes later, latching on to a perfect pass from Van Nistelrooij and rocketing home his shot from the edge of the area. The Turkish champions tried to hit back and won a corner in the 27th minute. The cross was met by Márcio Nobre, who buried his effort only for it to be ruled out by the referee because the corner had floated out of play.
United spurred on
That scare spurred United on, and they took the ball upfield with Giggs who passed to the effervescent Rooney. He dummied the defence with ease and fired in ruthlessly from 20 metres out. Now everything the teenager touched seemed like genius to an almost disbelieving Old Trafford. His vision in the 37th minute put David Bellion in sight of goal, but the Frenchman’s shot whistled wide.
United looked comfortable going into the second period, but within a minute of the restart Fenerbahçe gave their vociferous fans something to cheer. United failed to clear a corner leaving Nobre to score from close range.
Four minutes later United restored their three-goal cushion after winning a free-kick on the edge of the visitors' area. Despite the presence of older heads, it was Rooney who placed the ball down and skilfully chipped over the wall to claim a superb hat-trick.
Fenerbahçe refused to lie down, however, and scored a deserved second when United failed to clear a corner conceded in somewhat bizarre fashion by Rooney, who booted the ball behind from 35 metres out. Goalkeeper Roy Carroll parried the first effort, but the ever-dangerous Tuncay Sanli collected the rebound and finished off with an effort which crept inside the post.
The Turkish side continued to press but United’s record European goalscorer Van Nistelrooij got in on the act himself ten minutes from time. He controlled a cross from substitute Darren Fletcher on his chest, danced past the defence and smashed the ball in to end the visitors' hopes.
A minute later it was 6-2 with Rooney turning provider. He expertly headed a defensive clearance into the path of David Bellion, who stroked the ball past Reçber to complete the scoring.