Rooney inspires Manchester United to big win
Wayne Rooney set up three goals as Manchester United cruised to a 5-0 victory at Bayer Leverkusen today, booking their Champions League knockout stage spot and snapping the Germans' eight-game home winning streak in the competition.
Rooney tormented Leverkusen with pinpoint passes throughout the game and found Antonio Valencia with a deep cross for an easy tap-in before floating a free kick into the box which defender Emir Spahic headed into his own net in the 30th minute.
Jonny Evans added another after taking advantage of some confusion in the box and Chris Smalling scored in the 77th before a cute Nani finish sealed United's biggest away win in the Champions League.
It also made sure of English clubs' fifth win in seven matches against German teams this season.
The win lifted United, who were playing without injured Nemanja Vidic and Robin van Persie, to 11 points in Group A, three ahead of Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk, with Leverkusen in third on seven.
A win or draw against the Ukrainians at home in the final group game on Dec. 10 will guarantee the English team top spot.
Improving United, with former coach Alex Ferguson in the stands, were out to protect a 10-match unbeaten streak in all competitions and took some time to find their footing with Nani curling a first effort narrowly over the bar after 15 minutes.
Unmarked Valencia did it better in the 22nd, connecting perfectly with a smooth Rooney cross after a quick break launched by Shinji Kagawa to give United the lead.
Leverkusen, missing the pace of injured winger Sidney Sam, briefly jumped into action and Stefan Kiessling came close for the hosts only to be denied at the last moment by Evans.
With Leverkusen searching the equaliser, Rooney set up United's second goal, floating a dangerous free kick into the box and Spahic rising above everyone to head in an own goal.
The hosts, second in the Bundesliga, battled to come back and Stefan Reinartz hit the post with a header on the hour but United remained a constant threat with England striker Rooney coming close with a long-range effort.
Evans added a third goal in the 66th with Leverkusen's defence failing to clear the ball after a Rooney stab was saved by keeper Bernd Leno.
Rooney then set up Chris Smalling with a clever chip and Nani finished with aplomb.