Rooney relishes in righting his wrong
Hull 1 Manchester United 3:Wayne Rooney rescued Manchester United after almost playing the Premier League champions into trouble at struggling Hull this afternoon. Having given the champions the lead in first-half stoppage time at the KC Stadium he then gifted Hull a route back with the mistake that led to Craig Fagan’s penalty equaliser.
The England striker then stepped up a gear to force an own goal from Andy Dawson and then set up a third for strike partner Dimitar Berbatov.
Rooney admitted his relief afterwards. “Obviously when they got the equaliser it was a mistake by myself and thankfully we got the win, or I don’t think the manager would have been too pleased with me.
“It wasn’t a nice feeling, I didn’t want to let the lads down and at the time it looked like that but it happens and we got the win in the end.”
The win took United within two points of Premier League leaders Chelsea, and Rooney admitted: “I think it’s a mad league, a lot of teams are dropping points and it’s really close. Hopefully we can be more consistent in the second half (of the season) and retain our title.
The game also marked United’s first encounter with Alan Wiley since manager Alex Ferguson’s outspoken attack on the referee in October, when he claimed the official was unfit.
On this occasion United could complain little about Wiley’s decisions, and were perhaps lucky not to see Patrice Evra sent off in the second half.
After last week’s injury-influenced debacle at Fulham, United welcomed back a trio of defenders in Rafael da Silva, Wes Brown and Nemanja Vidic.
That gave United a much more familiar look as Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick returned to midfield roles while Ryan Giggs and Berbatov also came back for the champions.
Hull were unlucky not to take the lead after piecing together a brilliant move in the 28th minute.
Richard Garcia began the attack with a weaving run before finding Fagan out wide. His perfect cross was met on the volley by Seyi Olofinjana on the six-yard line but Tomasz Kuszczak saved to his right.
Hull survived a real scare when Boaz Myhill sliced a clearance but Giggs and Rooney were unable to take advantage of an unexpected opening.
The Tigers spurned another good opportunity as Olofinjana found Stephen Hunt on the left but the Republic of Ireland international shot tamely across goal.
Pressure finally paid off as Hull failed to clear a Fletcher cross and Rooney tapped in from close range during two minutes of stoppage time.
United were relieved but Rooney turned villain with a horrendous error just before the hour.
Rooney played Kuszczak into trouble with a weak backpass and Fagan nipped in to win the ball.
Fagan’s touch took it too wide to shoot but he turned and lofted in a cross for Jozy Altidore, who was bundled over by the backtracking Rafael.
Wiley pointed to the spot and Fagan, taking over spot-kicking duties, stepped up to coolly slot an equaliser.
Evra, booked in the first half, was fortunate to escape a second yellow card for holding back Fagan as Hull tried to launch another counter-attack.
Rooney then redeemed himself by forcing the own goal that put United back in front after 73 minutes.
Hull were caught as United broke from deep and Giggs put Rooney through. The angle was a tight one but Hull could not get back quickly enough and Rooney’s cross was turned in by Dawson.
There was no way back for Hull and Berbatov finished the job eight minutes from time, although he owed much to Rooney.
The England man was allowed to stroll into the area from halfway as Hull reacted slowly to a long Vidic header and then picked out Berbatov at the far post with a measured ball. The Bulgarian had a simple task to slide home.
Hull showed spirit as Bernard Mendy and Fagan shot wide and their performance should offer encouragement for Tuesday’s crunch clash at Bolton.