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Manchester United vs Real Sociedad

24 October 2013-PA Sport

Group A: Manchester United 1 Real Sociedad 0

Twenty-four hours after Sir Alex Ferguson had laid bare his fitness concerns for Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United striker proved the inspiration behind a crucial 1-0 UEFA Champions League win over Real Sociedad.

Ferguson was present as Rooney, who celebrates his 28th birthday this week, slalomed through the visiting side's defence in the second minute of a thrilling European tie.

And while what proved to be the winning goal was turned into his own net by Inigo Martinez, the credit was all Rooney's as it was his shot that cannoned off a post and into the hapless defender.

Sat in the directors' box, Ferguson would surely have approved, even more so near the end when UEFA said Rooney had run over 10 kilometres - well above the team average, underlining exactly how much work he has been doing.

The Scot would have been less happy at the sight of his old team passing up so many chances to seal the win.

Even without Robin van Persie, who missed out with sore toes, United should have been clear long before the end.

Rooney had four more opportunities, and Shinji Kagawa - making a rare start - two. Phil Jones's header was turned away, Javier Hernandez had a goal disallowed for offside and Antonio Valencia struck a post.

So, if Antoine Griezmann or Alberto de la Bella had been slightly more accurate when they hit the woodwork, a nervous panic might have swept round the stadium that could even have silenced the 1500 inhabitants of the singing section, an experiment surely worth persevering with given the improved atmosphere.

The result means United now has seven points, just three short of the number Ferguson always felt guaranteed qualification for the last 16.

In this troubled start to his tenure, it is a welcome position for David Moyes to find himself in.

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