Rooney back to his best as United close in on title
Old Trafford, Premier League: Manchester United 3-1 Aston Villa
WAYNE ROONEY returned to form with his first brace for 11 months to steer Man Utd to a comfortable win and maintain their five-point lead at the top of the table. The win equals a club record 29 league games without defeat.
Rooney’s double strike takes his tally for the season to six goals from 23 games, four from 15 in the league; at this stage last season, however, he had scored 23 goals in 35 games for club and country, and an incredible 20 in 23 Premier League games.
His first last night came after just 50 seconds, only his second from open play this term, controlling Edwin van der Sar’s goal kick with aplomb before smacking a dipping shot over Brad Friedel and into the Villa goal from the edge of the area...
...his second came on the stroke of half-time, tapping in a teasing Nani cross that just begged to be slotted home. Though Darren Bent pulled one back for the visitors on 58, Rooney was back in the swing within minutes, teeing up Nemanja Vidic to secure a 12th win in 13 home league games this campaign.
After the game, Rooney said:
“I have been happy with my play but obviously I want to score. As a striker you want to score goals but I have been happy with my performances, apart from the Blackpool match last week. I am delighted to have scored and hopefully I can go on a run now and help the team to win games...
“I have had a few chances off Edwin. It is something we have been trying for the past few years. It was a great ball by him and thankfully I was able to put it away. It was also a great ball from Nani. That is something he can do really well and it would be great to see him do more of it.
“He has got great dribbling skills but he is also a great crosser of a ball. If he mixes that up he will be really difficult for defenders to mark... We know it’s up to us where the title goes and I hope we can win it.”
Elsewhere this midweek round of matches, Arsenal and Chelsea both won, while Manchester City could only draw, dropping further off the pace - they now lie eight points off the pace, having played a game more, and look all but out of the title race; their bitterest rivals, meanwhile, look peerless.
• ESPN Soccernet: Wayne Rooney stats page
• March 2010: Rooney and Messi zero in on South Africa