Manchester United 1-0 CSKA Moskva Wayne Rooney's 79th-minute headed goal sends United to the top of Group B and leaves CSKA in fourth.
Article top media content
- Wayne Rooney's 79th-minute headed goal takes United top of Group B
- Rooney now level in second in list of United's all-time top scorers
- CSKA in fourth but only two points off second place
- Seydou Doumbia misses when clean through at 0-0
- CSKA suffer first defeat in 11 matches
- Next games: Man. United v PSV, CSKA Moskva v Wolfsburg (25 November)
Manchester United's long wait for a goal finally ended as Wayne Rooney's header secured a 1-0 victory against CSKA Moskva
Louis van Gaal's side were 11 minutes away from recording a fourth straight blank in front of goal when Rooney met Jesse Lingard's volleyed cross with a flying header to secure United a victory which lifts them to the top of Group B. In the process Rooney joined Denis Law on 237 goals in United colours, meaning only Sir Bobby Charlton has scored more goals for the club.
United had not found the net for 325 minutes prior to kick-off but they made a positive start. They had Rooney operating in the No10 role with Anthony Martial leading the line and with Lingard and Juan Mata providing support on the flanks, United were bright and full of purpose in the early stages.
Rooney played Lingard in behind the CSKA defence early on but Igor Akinfeev anticipated well and saved at his feet. Lingard, on his first UEFA Champions League appearance at Old Trafford, then had an even better chance in the 32nd when Mata played in Ashley Young on the right side of the box and he drove a ball across goal which Lingard picked up at the far post, but the youngster lifted his shot over the bar.
United dominated possession but with CSKA sitting deep they struggled to open them up, although there were chances for Marcos Rojo either side of the break as he sliced wide Young's deep cross, then nodded wide from a corner just after the restart.
CSKA, for their part, were happy with a strategy of containment. With playmaker Roman Eremenko injured and Seydou Doumbia on the bench, they posed no attacking threat in the first half when they did not have a single goal attempt. Doumbia did come on ten minutes after the restart and the game began to open up.
Eventually a clear opening arrived when Mata played a ball across goal to Rooney but Georgi Schennikov made a brilliant block. At the other end Doumbia missed when clean through, and moments later Rooney got his goal and then nearly teed up Lingard for a second only for Akinfeev to deny the youngster.
"We're Man United, we want to attack" was the chant midway through the second half at Old Trafford. Shortly afterwards the home crowd chorused "Attack, attack" as their frustration at the prospect of another goalless game began to grow. United fans have been spoiled with the quality of attacking football seen at Old Trafford on European nights down the years, but right now that old fluency is not quite there.
Doumbia so close
CSKA did not have a single goal attempt until the 63rd minute. They began to show as an attacking force with Doumbia's arrival but the man who scored the winning goal at Manchester City last November failed to make it a Mancunian double – put through he was foiled by David de Gea and then saw Chris Smalling block his follow-up and with it CSKA's hopes of a win vanished.
There were one or two moments of unrest from the Old Trafford crowd but one thing has not changed about United in Europe – they still know how to grab a late winner. Both their home successes in Group B have come late on.