LONDON: Wayne Rooney produced his own ‘David Beckham moment’ as Manchester United maintained their long-awaited improvement to win 2:0 at West Ham.
Only eight minutes had gone when Rooney pulled back defender James Tomkins on the halfway line, swivelled and hit a 57-yd volley over disorientated goalkeeper Adrian. Later Rooney scored again to move onto 212 goals and overtake Jack Rowley as the third highest scorer in United’s history.
But it was Rooney’s first goal which suggested to manager David Moyes that the champions may just have turned the corner after a crisis-torn seven months. His goal was possibly even better than David Beckham’s long-range strike at Wimbledon in 1996 because of the technique involved in the turn and the volley.
Beckham was in the crowd to see Rooney’s strike.
Rooney said: “It was just instinct. I turned, had a quick look and saw the goalkeeper off his line. It’s one of those I’ve tried many times and thankfully today it’s gone in.” He still preferred his overhead volley against Manchester City in 2011 as a better goal.
Moyes said: “It was a great goal from a top player. To have that technique, to have the awareness to know where the goalkeeper was and then to have the power and accuracy to finish it was terrific.”
Rooney in top form and full of confidence is essential if United are to have any hope of overturning FC Bayern in the Champions League quarter-finals, particularly because Robin Van Persie will not be there to share the attacking burden.
The Dutchman is out for up to six weeks after suffering a sprained knee after being taken off on a stretcher following his hat-trick in Wednesday’s 3:0 win Champions League comeback win over Olympiakos.
Van Persie has demonstrated his value to United by scoring 17 goals in 25 appearances in all competitions despite injuring a thigh against Shakhtar Donetsk last autumn which meant he missed most of December and January. It may not have been a coincidence that the ex-Gunner was absent as United crashed out of both the FA Cup and League Cup in a spell of four defeats in five games.
Hence the importance of Rooney who will probably remain in his free-ranging support role with Danny Welbeck up in the centre of attack in Van Persie’s place. An alternative for Moyes – perhaps in Munich – would be to use Rooney up front with Euro-specialist Ryan Giggs in support.
Not that United are thinking about Bayern this week. The only match which matters now is Tuesday’s derby at home to Manchester City.