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Thursday 19 October 2017

Rooney shines as five-goal United cruise to last 16

Manchester United's Nani, Chris Smalling, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra (L-R) celebrate after Bayer Leverkusen's Emir Spahic scored an own-goal during their Champions League Group A soccer match
Manchester United's Nani, Chris Smalling, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra (L-R) celebrate after Bayer Leverkusen's Emir Spahic scored an own-goal during their Champions League Group A soccer match
Bayer Leverkusen's Emir Spahic (L) is challenged by Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (2nd L) and Ryan Giggs (3rd L) during their Champions League Group A soccer match
Manchester United's Chris Smalling celebrates with his team mate Wayne Rooney (L) after scoring a goal against Bayer Leverkusen during their Champions League Group A soccer match

Simon Stone

Wayne Rooney played a starring role as Manchester United recorded their biggest European away win since 1964 to book themselves a place in the Champions League knockout stages with a game to spare.

Rooney might not have got his name on the scoresheet in the 5-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen but the 28-year-old's name was stamped all over a classy display that must rank amongst the best David Moyes has enjoyed during his short tenure so far.

Rooney collected the first four assists and was off the pitch when Nani scored United's fifth.

It was his cross that provided Antonio Valencia with a first half tap-in and Rooney who then curled over the free-kick that was headed into his own net by Emir Spahic as United took command before the break.

But the striker was not finished.

His close-range shot midway through the second period was too hot for Bernd Leno to hold, allowing Jonny Evans to finish off and then he lobbed a pass to Chris Smalling.

Nani completed the rout as United became the first English side to score four in Germany in this competition and record their biggest away triumph in Europe since a 6-1 demolition of Borussia Dortmund in the old Fairs Cup.

It was a result that made a mockery of Leverkusen's status as second only to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, the European champions the single team to escape the Bay Arena with so much as a draw prior to this one-sided affair.

Moyes can certainly be pleased with himself, although there is still a little bit of work to do against Shakhtar Donetsk at Old Trafford in a fortnight.

United will go into that game needing a point to secure top spot in Group A and avoid a nasty encounter with one of the competition's heavyweights in the spring, with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Paris St Germain all lying in wait for an unsuspecting runner-up.

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