Manchester United struck in the dying minutes of their Champions League Group B clash against CSKA Moscow to secure a narrow victory at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
- Manchester United 1, CSKA Moscow 0
- United wasteful in front of goal
- Rooney nets winner
Manchester United dominated every facet of play from the first whistle, but once again struggled to find the back of the net.
Louis van Gaal’s side seemed destined to suffer another draw, but Wayne Rooney brought the club’s goal drought to an end when he finally netted in the 80th minute.
United fielded a side showing several personnel changes from the team that struggled to a third consecutive goalless draw against Crystal Palace on Saturday, having lost on penalties to Middlesbrough in midweek after drawing 0-0 with Manchester City.
With Ashley Young installed at right-back and Jesse Lingard starting in midfield, United also seemed to approach the game with a different formation than previously employed this season.
The readjusted tactics seemed to reinvigorate Van Gaal's beleaguered attack, as United dominated the early exchanges and threatened constantly in the opening minutes.
Rooney had the first chance of the match as early as the fourth minute, when a cross from Marcos Rojo deflected through to him, but the striker’s first time shot went just wide of the post.
The hosts continued to look dangerous as they pinned CSKA in their own half, and although Lingard and Juan Mata were both able to find space and time in the wide spaces of the final third and penalty area, they were quickly shut down by alert goalkeeping from Igor Akinfeev.
United’s next solid chance came in the 28th minute when Rooney floated a tantalizing free kick towards the far post of Akinfeev’s goal. However, no one in a red shirt attacked the pass convincingly and the chance was squandered.
Mata and Young combined well on the right in the 32nd minute to break the defence wide open, but United failed to make the most of the chance yet again. The latter’s ball rolled harmlessly across the face of goal before arriving at the feet of Lingard, who sent a shot high above the bar.
Young created another excellent chance just four minutes later; finding Rojo at the far post with a booming cross before the left-back volleyed wide.
United had no other chances in the rest of the half, but Rojo wasted another good opportunity in the first minute after half time; heading wide at the far post after a well-taken corner.
The Red Devils continued their ceaseless assault of the CSKA penalty area, and wasted another chance in the 50th minute when teenage sensation Anthony Martial headed straight at Akinfeev after another pinpoint cross.
After a frantic start to the second half, the match eventually settled down slightly and goal-mouth action became less common.
United had to wait until the 71st minute for their next chance, but Rooney was unable to force the ball across the line from close range in a crowded box after Mata and Lingard combined to set him up.
The English side were almost caught on the counter seconds later when Seydou Doumbia raced clear with the United defence in his wake. The Ivorian striker was unable to beat David de Gea with his first effort and his follow-up shot was blocked by Young.
United finally made the breakthrough in the 80th minute when Lingard volleyed a cross to the centre of the box after he was found by Michael Carrick, and Rooney applied the finishing touch as he headed home.
The Red Devils kept pushing forward in the final ten minutes and hung on to the narrow lead to claim all three points.
PSV's victory over Wolfsburg means that United now top Group B with seven points from their first four matches.