Football: Rooney to start against Rangers

11:49 | 21/11/2010
Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson said their Champions League game at Rangers was the "perfect" match for Wayne Rooney to make his first start for the club since September 26.

Rooney made a 34-minute appearance as a substitute during United's 2-0 win over Wigan on Saturday after missing the previous eight games with an ankle problem.

It was his first outing since announcing he wanted to leave Old Trafford before agreeing a new five-year contract.

Ferguson labelled the England striker's comeback as "quiet" before confirming that Rooney would start against Scottish champions Rangers, a game which United need only draw to confirm their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

"The reception for Rooney was good. It will be pleasing for him and settle him down and make him realise he is at the right club," said Ferguson, after a victory which saw United go level on points with Chelsea at the top of the table.

"It was a quiet comeback. In the main he needed the 25 minutes, he will play against Rangers on Wednesday and that will be the perfect game for him to have 90 minutes."

Patrice Evra scored his first in the Premier League for four years just before half-time.

The France full-back was in the perfect position to meet Park Ji-Sung's deep cross, the Wigan defence falling asleep as the unmarked Evra was allowed to head past goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.

Mexico striker Javier Hernandez sealed the victory in the 77th minute with a well-taken header from Rafael da Silva's inch-perfect cross.

West London side Chelsea remain top of the league because of a better goal difference, but United have the momentum.

"It is a difficult league. We had a young team get about us at Villa last week, and it was like that from Wigan this week. They were aggressive and tested the referee," added Ferguson.

"We had a lot of free-kicks in the first half. Wigan put themselves about. It was hard to break them down.

"They set their stall out and had Charles N'Zogbia's pace on the break. We had a lot of the ball without doing much. We seem to be playing all our best football in the last 20 minutes. We need to have more quickness in our play earlier.

"But we controlled the game and when you do that you are always capable of getting the goal you need.

"We have had 17 different goalscorers this season and Evra missed one as well. We missed a lot of chances and it would have done our goal difference the power of good. We could have had five or six.

"It was not a great performance but competent. I will take being joint top without being at our best. At this moment, we have a home game next against Blackburn then Blackpool then big ones against Arsenal and Chelsea."

Wigan, who finished with nine men, dropped into the relegation zone after a 12th successive defeat against United.

Their cause was not helped by the dismissals of Antolin Alcaraz and Hugo Rodallega, who will now miss next Saturday's game at fellow strugglers West Ham.

"I'm not going to speak about the referee," said manager Roberto Martinez.

"All I will say is that if had been 11 versus 11 it would have been a great second half.

"When you go down to eight outfield players at Old Trafford it becomes a mental exercise rather than a football match.

"We lost 5-0 here last season but this time we didn't capitulate. We showed steel and that gives us a platform for the rest of the season to get enough points."

AFP

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