Wayne Rooney inspires United in 5-0 rout of Bayer Leverkusen
David Moyes’s side record biggest European away win since 1964
Antonio Valencia turns home Manchester United’s opening goal during the Champions League game against Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena. Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters
Champions League round-up: 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.
Shakhtar boosted their chances of qualifying as their Brazilian flare helped them outclass an eliminated Real Sociedad 4-0.
Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano latched onto an incisive pass from compatriot Douglas Costa and flicked the ball into the net from a very sharp angle via the near post after 37 minutes.
Shakhtar doubled their lead three minutes after the restart following a blunder by Inigo Martinez, whose clumsy clearance set up Alex Teixeira to rifle straight into the top corner.
Douglas Costa rifled a spectacular shot into the top corner from the edge of the area to make it 3-0 and ended the rout with a header three minutes from time. Manchester City kept up the pressure on Bayern Munich at the top of Champions League Group D with a 4-2 victory over Viktoria Plzen at the Etihad Stadium.
Although City dominated they lacked finesse in front of goal. The hosts took the lead on 33 minutes when Sergio Aguero converted a penalty after Frantisek Rajtoral was harshly judged to have handled.
Tomas Horava levelled 10 minutes later for a confident Plzen side, flashing a great drive past goalkeeper Joe Hart and into the top corner.
City dominated the second half and led again on 65 minutes through the always-busy Samir Nasri who turned in a Jesus Navas cross but again they conceded an equaliser when the defence backed off a fine passing move and Stanislav Tecl side-footed home.