Sunday 25 February 2018

Rooney and De Gea give United a timely boost

Manchester United 3-1 Barcelona

Wayne Rooney celebrates after opening the scoring for Man Utd
Wayne Rooney celebrates after opening the scoring for Man Utd

Mark Ogden

Wayne Rooney and David de Gea combined to guide Manchester United to a morale-boosting victory against European champions Barcelona as Louis van Gaal's team extended their unbeaten pre-season campaign in California.

Rooney's eighth-minute opener, followed by second-half goals from substitutes Jesse Lingard and Adnan Januzaj either side of Rafinha's volleyed strike for Barcelona, secured victory in front of 68,416 fans at the Levi's Stadium.

While Rooney set United on course for victory, De Gea's first-half heroics underlined his importance to Van Gaal, who will regard this performance as a major fillip ahead of the Premier League opener against Tottenham on August 8.

Angel di Maria, the British record signing from Real Madrid, is unlikely to figure in that game, with the Argentinian understood to be close to sealing a £45m move to Paris Saint-Germain. He is expected to have a medical today.


While Barcelona were without Lionel Messi and Neymar, with both players enjoying extended breaks following their involvement in the Copa America, there was no shortage of world-class talent in Luis Enrique's team.

Luis Suarez started up front and the team also included Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez, who remains a priority target for Van Gaal.

De Gea could have been beaten as early as the third minute, when Suarez's free-kick beat the wall only for the ball to strike an upright and bounce clear.

Three minutes later, United's defence was breached again when Rafinha released Sergi Roberto, but De Gea raced off his line to block the shot.

United went ahead moments later when Rooney scored with a well-placed header from Ashley Young's corner.

Despite falling behind, Barca remained in control, with Sergi Roberto proving a constant menace with his movement and Iniesta running the game from midfield, but United always looked dangerous on the break.

After Suarez was again denied by the woodwork in between a number of fine saves by De Gea, United emerged as the stronger team for the second half and they went close a number times before Lingard's close-range strike from Tyler Blackett's cross doubled their lead on 65 minutes.

Rafinha halved the deficit in the final minute but United had the last say courtesy of Januzaj seconds later.

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