Goals in each half from Wayne Rooney helped Manchester United to a first Champions League win under David Moyes. Robin van Persie and Antonio Valencia were also on target.
Opponents Bayer Leverkusen were left to rue a shaky display from keeper Bernd Leno and defensive errors, though briefly restored parity through skipper Simon Rolfes. Omer Toprak later added a consolation.
Red Devils manager David Moyes gave a first start to Marouane Fellaini in one of three changes from their weekend Premier League win over Crystal Palace.
Chris Smalling came in at right back and Shinji Kagawa got the nod after illness. Brazilian pair Anderson and Fabio joined controversial winger Ashley Young in dropping to the bench.
Leverkusen boss Sami Hyypia handed Champions League debuts to Italy Under-21 fullback Giulio Donati and midfielder Emre Can. Stefan Kiessling carried the Bunesliga outfit’s main goal threat, supplemented by Sidney Sam and Son Heung-Min.
United took full advantage of a nervy start from the visitors with Smalling heading onto the roof of the net from a van Persie free kick. Young keeper Leno was in no man’s land here.
Moyes’s men led with a quarter of the game gone in contentious fashion. Rooney volleyed a Patrice Evra centre into the ground and in. Leverkusen defenders had their hands up in the air thinking van Persie offside in the build-up.
Even if the Red Devils’ lethal Dutchman might have been level, Valencia was beyond the last man and obstructing goalie Leno. Two further first half chances were then spurned by the hosts.
Rooney curled a free kick just wide and Kagawa saw a deflected effort across goal follow suit. Leverkusen posed little attacking threat of their own before half time, though Sam was allowed to get a shot away after the break.
This warning was not heeded by United. Rooney then missed an open goal when he rounded Leno after Omer Toprak slipped. Leverkusen responded by going up the other end and equalising ten minutes into the second half.
Manchester United’s 200 club
- Wayne Rooney joined Red Devils legends Bobby Charlton (249), Denis Law (237) and Jack Rowley (211) as only the fourth Manchester United player to break the 200-goal barrier.
Red Devils lines were not cleared as Son made a nuisance of himself and Rolfes’ strike took a nick off Michael Carrick on its way in. David De Gea never moved.
Leverkusen were level for just five minutes, however. Valencia burst up the right and crossed for van Persie to hook home acrobatically. This was yet another howler from Leno, who had a torrid time with Germany’s Under-21s this summer.
Hyypia turned to Lars Bender as the Bundesliga side tightened up for the final quarter. De Gea then saved from the substitute after industrious work from Kiessling.
A goal via route one then wrapped up victory for the Red Devils with 20 minutes to spare. Two Leverkusen defenders went for an aerial ball and Rooney profited, firing past Leno on his near post when in behind for his 200th United goal.
Valencia capped a convincing second half display from the hosts by firing in a fourth ten minutes from time. United countered swiftly through sub Young, and Rooney teed up the Ecuadorian to pick his spot.
There was a late consolation for Leverkusen when De Gea flapped at a corner, Stefan Reinartz hit the bar and Toprak smuggled in the rebound. Van Persie then missed an open goal, but it hardly mattered.
Moyes has taken his first steps towards proving he can mastermind a European campaign. His next assignment is the Manchester derby, and City go into that one off the back of a big Champions Leage win of their own.
- Man Utd: 1 David De Gea, 12 Chris Smalling, 5 Rio Ferdinand, 15 Nemanja Vidic (c), 3 Patrice Evra, 25 Antonio Valencia, 16 Michael Carrick, 31 Marouane Fellaini (23 Tom Cleverley 80’), 26 Shinji Kagawa (18 Ashley Young 71’), 10 Wayne Rooney (14 Javier Hernandez 84’), 20 Robin van Persie 4-4-1-1
- Goals: Wayne Rooney 22’, 70’, Robin van Persie 59’, Antonio Valencia 79’
- Leverkusen: 1 Bernd Leno, 26 Giulio Donati, 5 Emir Spahic, 21 Omer Toprak, 17 Sebastian Boenisch, 10 Emre Can, 3 Stefan Reinartz, 6 Simon Rolfes (c), 18 Sidney Sam (23 Robbie Kruse 78’), 11 Stefan Kiessling (9 Eren Derdiyok 78’), 7 Son Heung-Min (8 Lars Bender 64’) 4-3-3
- Goals: Simon Rolfes 54’, Omer Toprak 88’