Rooney scores 2 as United beats Leverkusen 4-2
MANCHESTER, England (AP) - Wayne Rooney reached the 200-goal mark for Manchester United by scoring twice in a 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday, giving manager David Moyes the perfect introduction to life in the Champions League.
Free of the uncertainty of the offseason when he was constantly linked with a move to Chelsea, Rooney was the star at Old Trafford after opening the scoring in the 22nd minute, grabbing United's crucial third and then setting up Antonio Valencia to complete an impressive Group A victory.
Simon Rolfes equalized against the run of play for Leverkusen in the 54th but Robin van Persie quickly regained the lead for United, before his strike partner helped finish off the threat.
Omer Toprak poked in a close-range consolation in the 88th for Leverkusen, which failed to reproduce the form it has shown so far in the Bundesliga.
Moyes was taking charge of his first group-stage match in the Champions League and saw his team hit the ground running in Europe's top competition, producing a performance that was much improved from its underwhelming start to the Premier League.
The margin of victory should have been even larger, with Rooney and Van Persie both missing open goals. Van Persie's effort was particularly remarkable, sidefooting wide from barely a yard out.
Rooney can look back on an evening when he reached another scoring milestone for United with much fondness.
Wearing a thick headband to cover a deep gash to his forehead sustained in training 2 1/2 weeks ago, the England striker looked sharp and full of running in the hole behind Van Persie. The strikers were also both on target in a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday, and it is a potent partnership that Moyes is clearly banking on in his first season at United.
Rooney's opener - his 199th in all competitions for United - had a hint of fortune about it, though.
Patrice Evra was just offside when he collected the ball before crossing to Rooney, whose volley wasn't struck cleanly but was strong enough to beat Bernd Leno with the goalkeeper hindered on the line by United winger Antonio Valencia, who was off side.
United fully deserved its halftime lead, with Leverkusen compact overall but rudderless up front. Star striker Stefan Kiessling - the Bundesliga's top scorer last season - was starved of service early.
In fact, United could have been further ahead only for a deflected shot by recalled playmaker Shinji Kagawa skewing just wide moments before the break.
An even better chance was wasted six minutes into the second half, this time by Rooney.
Toprak slipped in possession to allow the striker to run clean through but after rounding Leno, Rooney was caught between shooting into an unguarded net and crossing for the unmarked Van Persie. What ended up being a cross-cum-shot agonizingly rolled just wide of the far post.
Rolfes made him pay two minutes later by bending in a shot from the edge of the area, after passive United defending had allowed Son Heung-min to wriggle free in the area.
But the lead was restored in the 59th when Valencia raced to the byline and crossed for Van Persie to send a flying volley toward Leno, who could only bat the ball into his own net.
Rooney then pounced on Toprak's poor headed clearance to beat Leno at his near post in the 70th, before slipping a ball through to Valencia following a quick counterattack for the winger to fizz a low shot in at the near post.
Then came Van Persie's glaring miss and Toprak's prodded finish for Leverkusen to cap an entertaining opening match in the group.
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