Much has been said and will, no doubt, be said about United’s defeat against Basel that ended their Champions League campaign prematurely, but the Champions responded in the best possible way, putting in a fine performance to dismantle a sorry Wolves side.
With Vidic out for the rest of the season, Evans slotted alongside Rio Ferdinand in defence, while Carrick and Valencia were brought into the midfield – the latter at Ashley Young’s expense – as Welbeck lined up to partner Rooney up-front. The other 7 were unchanged from Wednesday night.
So it was, perhaps, fitting that United’s best man in that cold Swiss night was to put the Reds ahead, as Nani fired a low strike into the bottom corner with 17 minutes played after a United corner had been poorly cleared.
United should have been ahead after 7 minutes, but Carrick put his header just over the bar, following a cross from Valencia and could have doubled their lead when Jones was unable to convert Nani’s delivery.
What Jones couldn’t do, Rooney could. United’s number 10 scored his first goal for three months as he coolly slotted the ball past Hennessey after Nani had picked him out, following yet another poor clearance by Wolves.
Steven Fletcher continued his fine form by out-jumping Evra to head home his 5th goal in the last 6 league games.
Any hopes of a Wolves’ resurgence were quashed within ten minutes as Nani restored a two-goal lead.
Valencia – a constant threat throughout the game – ran at Ward before firing a cross into the box, which was met by Nani on the edge of the six yard box, as the Portuguese slotted the ball home.
Valencia was, again, involved in the build up as he delivered a ball to the far post where Rooney fired a fantastic half volley on the turn behind Hennessey.
If United are to achieve anything the season, a lot will depend on Rooney and Nani’s form and their performance today will have had United faithful leaving Old Trafford hopeful that they can carry the team on their shoulders for the rest of the season.
Rooney, in particular, seems to have overcome the barren spell that has been afflicting him for the last three months.
Jones produced another assured display in the middle of the park, the youngster seems to be growing in the role of holding midfielder and one has to wonder if the return of Tom Cleverly will mean the end of Jones’ spell in midfield.
Two points off the top, with City facing a tough away trip to Stamford Bridge on Monday night. Things could be a lot worse for a side ravaged by injuries.
Related items from Red Rants: