Wayne Rooney Focus
Published 11/04/2016 | 21:11
Wayne Rooney made his first appearance since February 13 on Monday night when he turned out for Manchester United's Under-21s at Old Trafford in front of Louis van Gaal.
The 30-year-old England captain lasted 61 minutes in a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough ahead of United's FA Cup quarter-final replay at West Ham in two days' time.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at how the striker fared on his comeback.
Rooney was his usual lively self, leading the line and popping up in deeper midfielder positions before spreading the play. At one point he won the ball back on halfway and burst forward to arrive in the area as a delivery arrived from the left. Prior to his substitution for Axel Tuanzebe in the 61st minute there was no sign of Rooney struggling with his energy levels either.
The England international had three attempts on goal in total and only one found the target as he struggled to get his eye in during his first outing in two months. An early 30-yard half volley into the ground was easy for Boro goalkeeper Joe Fryer to deal with and the stopper was untroubled by another attempt that flew into the stand behind his goal prior to the break. In the second half, Rooney took a free-kick 25 yards out, but this one failed to dip below the crossbar in front of the Stretford End.
Joe Rothwell, later taken off because of injury, bailed Rooney out at first with a loose first pass that was almost intercepted, but United's number 10 soon found his rhythm. Most of his customary raking balls found their intended target and a smart one-two with Jamie Weir in the area nearly produced the opening goal, only for Fryer to keep the shot out at his near post.
The main purpose of Rooney's involvement was surely to give him a run-out prior to United's crucial replay at Upton Park later this week and in that respect it was a useful exercise. It was only after Rooney had gone off that the hosts scored, though, with Paddy McNair bursting into the box unmarked and finishing off just six minutes after the evening's star turn had come off.