Rooney shines in United win
By Patrick Goss. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Holders Manchester United booked their place in the FA Cup fifth round with an impressive 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough at Old Trafford.
With their young stars firing on all cylinders, United rarely looked troubled, as John O'Shea gave them an early lead and Wayne Rooney lobbed a fine second, before brilliantly volleying home the third to cap a fine display.
A lively first half had seen United take the lead and the lion's share of the chances, but Boro waste a fine opportunity to level.
The hosts had been probing at the Middlesbrough rearguard for much of the opening 10 minutes before the impressive O'Shea gave them the lead.
The versatile Irishman looked to be enjoying a more advanced role and he intelligently stayed forward after an original attack broke down.
Quinton Fortune did superbly well to flick the ball over his shoulder and cut-back, Cristiano Ronaldo's juggling on the edge of the box drew in the defence and his flick deflected kindly for O'Shea, who finished with aplomb, firing high into the net.
Boro looked bereft of ideas, but they were nearly gifted a goal when Rio Ferdinand failed to see Bolo Zenden.
The Dutchman played a neat one-two with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, but the much-maligned Roy Carroll produced a fine close range save to keep his side ahead.
James Morrison had a volley well blocked after Carroll rather flapped at a punch, put it was United that piled on the pressure.
Rooney and Ronaldo were both looking lively, and the two combined to good effect when the former saw Mark Schwarzer save well from his stabbed effort.
Rooney had a shot deflected over soon after, but it was left back Gabriel Heinze who should have put the hosts two up by half time.
Heinze was perfectly placed when O'Shea flicked on Phil Neville's cross, but he was in two minds as to what body part to throw at the ball and eventually 'thighed' the ball wide.
The second half started as the first had ended, with United piling on the pressure - and Carroll almost aided a second when his fine catch and quick throw out released Ronaldo, whose pass to Giggs was just too close to an alert Schwarzer.
Schwarzer also saved well from Ronaldo - whose shot deflected off O'Shea, but did not beat the Australia international.
And yet it was Schwarzer who was at fault when Rooney added a second, cantering out into no-man's land, as the ball was played superbly over the top by Gary Neville and allowing the England star the opportunity to lob over him and into the empty net.
Both teams looked well aware that the match was all over bar the shouting, and the tempo eased - although a blocked Hasselbaink free kick made the crowd wince, along with Phil Neville, and substitute Louis Saha had a half chance.
But, Rooney was not yet done and he fired a wonderful second to seal his brace, Saha doing well to win the ball in the air and the teenager volleying home powerfully to the delight of an adoring Old Trafford.
So, United follow up Carling Cup exit with FA Cup progression - and you get the feeling that Rooney will be making his mark on this very competition for years to come.
|Team Name||Manchester United||Middlesbrough|
|Shots On Target||7||0|
|Shots Off Target||5||1|