Football: Rooney salvages point with record-breaking strike

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates with Phil Jones after scoring their first goal to break the all time goalscoring record for Manchester United.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates with Phil Jones after scoring their first goal to break the all time goalscoring record for Manchester United.PHOTO: REUTERS

STOKE-ON-TRENT, United Kingdom (AFP) - Wayne Rooney fired home a spectacular injury-time equaliser to break Bobby Charlton's Manchester United goalscoring record and force a 1-1 draw with Stoke City in Saturday's (Jan 21) Premier League clash.

Rooney couldn't have chosen a better way to grab his 250th goal for the club from a free-kick with time running out after United had trailed since the early stages to an unfortunate own goal by Juan Mata.

While Rooney was delighted with his personal record, the point did little to advance United's title claims as they trail Chelsea by 11 points with the leaders due to play struggling Hull on Sunday.

 
 

Rooney's strike was appropriately enough witnessed by 1966 World Cup-winning star Charlton sitting in the director's box.

"It means a hell of a lot," said Rooney.

"It is a great honour and I am very proud.

"It is difficult at the minute to be over-pleased because of the result but in the grand scheme it is huge honour.

"It is not something I expected when I joined. As I said before, I am proud and I hope there is more to come." United manager Jose Mourinho said the record allowed Rooney to be termed a legend.

"The record is the record. It is the record of the biggest club in England and one of the biggest in the world," said the Portuguese coach.

"Before him the record belonged to a legend of English football. Now Wayne becomes a legend of Manchester United." United had gone behind to a lame goal in the 19th minute.

Erik Pieters was picked out by Marko Arnautovic's astute pass and his low cross was deflected past David De Gea by Mata at his near post.

With Marouane Fellaini recalled to the starting line-up, it was clear United would adopt a direct approach and it almost got them straight back into the game when Zlatan Ibrahimovic's control in front of goal let him down badly at the crucial moment.

Mata's afternoon then went from bad to worse when he missed a glaring opportunity to atone for his earlier mishap on the half hour.

Paul Pogba's vision picked out Ibrahimovic bursting forward and he laid the equaliser on a plate for the Spaniard with his cross to the far post, but Mata somehow contrived to scoop it over a gaping net from just inside the six-yard box.

It was all one-way traffic in the closing stages of the first half as United pressed hard for an equaliser and Stoke were indebted to Lee Grant.

First, the keeper reacted smartly to tip over a volley from Fellaini and then from the resulting corner he denied Pogba with another fine save.

The pattern of play didn't change after the break, but it wasn't long before Mourinho had seen enough as Rashford was sent on in place of Fellaini.

Pieters and Mata were then involved in another incident which resulted in United having furious appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Mark Clattenburg.

The Stoke defender got across to block Mata's attempt at goal from a Pogba cross, but the ball clearly struck his outstretched arm in doing so.

United hung their heads in frustration when Jesse Lingard beat Grant with a long-range effort, but watched as it clipped the bar.

However, their persistence eventually got its reward deep into injury time when Rooney struck with his free-kick from wide on the left.