Man Utd 1 - 0 Wigan: Injury takes shine off of Rooney strike
WAYNE Rooney's first-minute effort was enough to give Manchester United victory in a hard-fought north-west derby with Wigan at Old Trafford.
Rooney only lasted six minutes after suffering a hamstring injury that threatens to keep him out for an extended period. But he was on hand to tap home Cristiano Ronaldo's low cross to ensure an eighth straight win over the Latics, who failed to find a breakthrough despite edging the remainder of the contest.
Paul Scholes was one of five changes in the United side, but there was still no place for Carlos Tevez. Sir Alex Ferguson switched both his full-backs and retained only newly-crowned Fifa World Player of the Year Ronaldo from the midfield that proved too much for Chelsea on Sunday. But as Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov kept their places, Tevez remained on the bench.
United might have expected stern resistance from their visitors. As it turned out, Wigan survived for less than a minute. Berbatov set the move going with a superb pass to Ronaldo on the right flank. The Portuguese then delivered a dangerous, low cross to the near post that was flicked on by Michael Carrick to leave Rooney with a three-yard tap-in for his ninth of the season.
It proved to be a brief appearance for Rooney, who limped off after only six minutes with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. For Tevez at least, it was good news as the Argentina striker was quickly introduced.
Yet if it had not been for the goal, Wigan would have been quite pleased with their start.
Steve Bruce's men were seeing plenty of the ball, with Emile Heskey drilling a long-range shot wide. Wilson Palacios failed to test Edwin van der Sar from a similar distance, and Antonio Valencia ballooned a 30-yard effort way over the bar.
Jonny Evans did well to head away an inswinging Ryan Taylor cross before thunderous midfield collision between Scholes and Lee Cattermole.
Ronaldo got up somewhat gingerly after he took the brunt of Palacios' firm but fair challenge, while Evans was also limping after a tackle on Heskey.
Tevez found himself through on goal after springing the Wigan offside trap to reach John O'Shea's long header forward. The South American skipped past Chris Kirkland, but knocked the ball too far forward and the angle would have been too acute to score anyway even without Titus Bramble's well-executed block tackle.
A sustained period of Wigan pressure ended with an unmarked Paul Scharner heading a far-post corner into the side-netting. Taylor then curled a disappointing shot over the bar after being set up by Valencia.
Scharner was booked for a scything lunge on Tevez, who received treatment, and Zaki was yellow-carded for charging down a Ronaldo free-kick far too early.
Scharner received a long and – one suspected – a final lecture from referee Bennett after hauling Tevez down on halfway.
Heskey felt he should have had a penalty rather than concede a free-kick when he was hauled down by Nemanja Vidic but his foul had come first.
Figueroa drilled a shot straight at Van der Sar after the veteran Dutchman's own poor throw had created the opportunity. Valencia then turned Heskey's cross wide, bringing Ferguson out of his dug-out to implore more effort from his team.
Ronaldo had a penalty appeal turned down when his shot struck Camara on the arm.
Ronaldo and Berbatov both fired just wide as a measure of their usual attacking invention returned to United ranks before the end.
Manchester Utd: Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva, Vidic, Evans, O'Shea, Ronaldo, Scholes (Fletcher 85), Carrick, Nani (Anderson 59), Berbatov, Rooney (Tevez 8). Subs not used: Kuszczak, Neville, Park, Welbeck.
Wigan Athletic: Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Figueroa, Valencia, Cattermole (Kapo 88), Palacios, Taylor (De Ridder 81), Zaki (Camara 75), Heskey. Subs not used: Kingson, Edman, Brown, Boyce. Booked: Bramble, Scharner, Zaki.
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