Football: Rooney header sends United top in Group B

Rooney (right) scores the match's only goal.
Rooney (right) scores the match's only goal.EPA

MANCHESTER, England (REUTERS) - A thumping header from Wayne Rooney ended Manchester United's scoring drought and secured a 1-0 Champions League victory over CSKA Moscow as they went top of Group B on Tuesday.

United had seemed to be heading for a fourth successive goalless draw before Rooney met a Jesse Lingard cross and sent a bullet header soaring past CSKA keeper Igor Akinfeev and into the roof of the net in the 79th minute.

Despite dominating possession throughout the Old Trafford encounter, the home team had struggled to break down the resilient Russians whose own attacking ambitions were limited to infrequent counter attacks.

United, who had previously failed to score in Premier League encounters against Manchester City and Crystal Palace as well as a League Cup clash against second tier Middlesbrough, mustered little more than half chances until Rooney's winner.

The result left the group perfectly poised with United on seven points, one clear of VfL Wolfsburg and PSV Eindhoven, who won 2-0 at home to the Germans on Tuesday. CSKA are bottom with four.

United began brightly, fizzing the ball around the slick surface with intent.


Their possession, however, counted for little in the opening 45 minutes with a succession of half chances coming to nothing as the home crowd grew increasingly restless.

Rooney, whose form had been questioned after scoring only two Premier League goals this season, flashed an effort fractionally wide after three minutes and then almost latched on to an under-hit back pass before Akinfeev cleared the danger.

A long ball from Daley Blind evaded the outstretched leg of Juan Mata, Lingard ballooned an effort over the bar when he should have done better and Marcos Rojo sliced a shot wide at the far post.

CSKA, who won 2-1 at United's neighbours Manchester City 12 months ago, were happy to keep men behind the ball and barely threatened Louis van Gaal's well-drilled rearguard.

It looked like it would not be Rooney's night when he got the ball stuck under his feet from 5m with 20 minutes remaining, just before United keeper David De Gea pulled off a superb save to deny Seydou Doumbia when he was through on goal.

The United striker, who became England's record international scorer earlier this season, ensured there was a happy ending when he netted his 237th goal for the club to draw level with Denis Law as the Old Trafford outfit's second highest scorer.