Before the start of the match, it had been 324 minutes of goalless football by Manchester United, in all competitions. And with a largely hurried and anxious performance by the Red Devils at home, as well as some concentrated and committed defending by CSKA Moscow, it looked almost certain to go down as yet another 0-0 draw, until Wayne Rooney popped in his head at the face of the goal to earn a dramatic winner for Manchester United in the 80th minute. CSKA Moscow and Manchester United played out a thoroughly intriguing and exhilarating match at Old Trafford. EssentiallySports brings to you the 5 Talking Points of the match.
WAYNE ROONEY BECOMES VISIBLE.
The all-time highest goalscorer for England, third highest goalscorer for Manchester United and the Red Devils’ Captain, Wayne Rooney, played upfront and was impactful during the match. Constantly, dropping into the hole where a typical No.10 operates, Rooney was comfortable with the ball and was creating the play quite superbly throughout the match. His goal was no doubt the most important piece of work done by him on the pitch but his overall passing game. His work-rate off the ball was brilliant too and his attacking creativity was on spot as well. He was back.
Chris Smalling and David de Gea kept United in the hunt.
CSKA garnered around 30% possession and had absolutely nothing on the attacking front due to which CSKA Moscow had limited resources to score on. However, the most exciting opportunity to open the scorings on the night fell to CSKA Moscow but David de Gea, just like always, made himself big in the one on one situation, and stopped a certain goal before Chris Smalling came running from nowhere to make a sliding block to the shot from the same attacker after pouncing on the loose ball. Had that got into United’s net, the situation would have been different for Manchester United.
David de Gea had almost nothing to do apart from this particular piece of action while Chris Smalling ably defended and protected the goal whenever called into action.
CSKA Moscow carried the plan to perfection. Almost!
CSKA Moscow knew beforehand about the onslaught they will receive at the Old Trafford. The situation will be hostile and Manchester United will neither give possession nor will they sit back. They were expecting waves and waves of United’s attack and planned accordingly to sit back, defend deep and hit on the counter. Doumbia’s injury was a handicap before the match but still CSKA almost pulled off a heist at Old Trafford by scoring a late goal against the run of play only for David de Gea and Chris Smalling to spoil that party. This was not before Doumbia was introduced into the match in 2nd half Musa and him started to cause some problems for United’s back 4. CSKA defended brilliantly throughout the 90 minutes apart from that Rooney’s goal in the 80th minute. Wayne Rooney’s goal spoilt the entire hardwork they put into the match.
Man Of The Match Performance by Jesse Lingard.
Jesse Lingard was unarguably the best player on the pitch for the night. Constantly running and creating something from the kick-off till the final whistle. All his hardwork was tipified during the 80th minute when he crossed first time on the volley for Rooney to head it in and break the deadlock. Besides that 1 assist, Lingard had 4 shots on goal, 88% pass accuracy, 12 take-ons and 5 crosses attempted. Not a bad piece of stats for a 22-year-old playing his 2nd Champions League match.
Mata’s position needs to be re-shuffled.
It looks all the more galling to see Juan Mata stuck out on the right flank, seemingly unable to drift away from the right flank to inside right position.
Mata is precisely the kind of player United need in thatrole, to conjure up chances for the likes of Rooney, Martial, and even Fellaini. Mata needs to be in that central role to add some spark and creativity. He has the experience and the proven pedigree both in the Premier League and Europe.
Instead, he’s playing a tad too far out wide. Van Gaal needs to free the Spaniard from his shackles and allow him to get onto the ball more and weave the magic he’s famous for.