Manchester United went a point clear at the top of Champions League group A courtesy of an own goal made by Wayne Rooney against Basque Country outfit Real Sociedad.
Red Devils manager David Moyes made four changes from the 1-1 draw with Southampton. Marouane Fellaini, Adnan Januzaj and Nani dropped to the bench whilst Robin van Persie was rested. Ryan Giggs, Javier Hernandez, Shinji Kagawa and Antonio Valencia came in.
Former Arsenal forward Carlos Vela lined up in the Sociedad XI. He brought threat from a wide area to the hosts alongside Antoine Griezmann. Captain Xabi Prieto meanwhile returned to the side after a month out with a thigh problem.
United flew out of the traps and within two minutes went ahead. Patrice Evra fed Wayne Rooney after good work on the left by Kagawa. The England talisman went on a lovely jinking infield run and smashed against the far post. Inigo Martinez then shanked the rebound into his own net off his knee.
Chile keeper Claudio Bravo saved low from Rooney as he side-footed Rafael’s cross on target. Red Devils strike partner Hernandez was also in the thick of the action. He saw a penalty claim for a coming together with Inigo Martinez turned down and later took a high boot from Mikel Gonzalez.
Rooney tried an audacious overhead from Valencia’s cross as Sociedad struggled to live with the tempo set by their hosts for the first quarter. Hernandez then saw a goal ruled out for offside as he headed home a Ryan Giggs centre, but was well beyond the last defender.
Sociedad slowly grew into the contest and threatened through Swiss striker Haris Seferovic. Giggs lost possession in midfield, but David De Gea palmed over the deflected effort superbly. Impetuous fouls from Rafael then almost cost United a man.
Moyes’s men survived a huge scare when Griezmann curled a beautiful free kick against the post late in the first half. The Sociedad offensive continued after the break with Jonny Evans forced into evasive action..
The Red Devils weathered this early second half flurry and almost doubled their lead through Phil Jones. Bravo somehow kept his header out as Kagawa crossed to the back post following a short corner routine. Jones had peeled away from his marker here.
Alberto de la Bella nearly caught De Gea how with a looping cross which clipped the bar. Valencia shot straight at Bravo and later against the base of the post in response for United. Carlos Martinez’s last-ditch block then denied Kagawa.
Chances for the hosts continued to go begging as Rooney lashed wide when Valencia flicked a long ball up to him. Bravo saved again from the number ten and sub Ashley Young fired off target. The Red Devils were made to play out a narrow victory.
Rooney teed up Young for a tap-in, but Bravo slid smartly off his line to snuff out the danger. Kagawa shot into the side-netting late on, but Moyes’s men had done enough. The result rather than the scoreline is significant.
- Man Utd: 1 Patrice Evra, 2 Rafael da Silva (12 Chris Smalling 59’), 4 Phil Jones, 6 Jonny Evans, 3 Patrice Evra (c), 16 Michael Carrick, 11 Ryan Giggs, 25 Antonio Valencia, 10 Wayne Rooney, 26 Shinji Kagawa, 14 Javier Hernandez (18 Ashley Young 80’) 4-2-3-1
- Goals: Inigo Martinez og 2’
- Sociedad: 1 Claudio Bravo, 2 Carlos Martinez, 3 Mikel Gonzalez, 6 Inigo Martinez, 24 Alberto de la Bella, 17 David Zurutuza (18 Chori Castro 75’), 5 Markel Bergara, 10 Xabi Prieto (c) (14 Ruben Pardo 68’), 11 Carlos Vela, 8 Haris Seferovic (9 Immanol Agirretxe 75’), 7 Antoine Griezmann 4-3-3