Rooney equals record as Man Utd sink Reading
Wayne Rooney equalled Bobby Charlton’s Manchester United scoring record as his side crushed ex-United defender Jaap Stam’s Reading 4-0 in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s side made it eight wins in a row, but the headlines belonged to recalled United captain Rooney, who matched the watching Charlton’s tally of 249 goals.
Rooney, 31, needed just seven minutes to equal the record, established in March 1973, with the ball looping in off his right knee from Juan Mata’s cross.
Anthony Martial made it 2-0 after 15 minutes before Marcus Rashford made the game safe with a late brace.
As expected, United manager Mourinho rang the changes, making nine alterations from Monday’s 2-0 victory at West Ham United, with Marcos Rojo and Michael Carrick the lone survivors.
Reading manager Stam established a reputation as a fearless defender at United between 1998 and 2001, but the warm welcome he received on his return ended at kick-off.
Rashford broke onto a Rooney flick after just 36 seconds to bear down on Reading goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, but bent his shot wide trying to find the corner of the net.
Rooney’s breakthrough came when Martial ghosted past Chris Gunter on the left and slipped the ball inside to Mata, whose cross was guided past Al Habsi by the United captain.
Television cameras captured a delighted Charlton sitting in the stands, followed by a grinning former United manager Alex Ferguson.
Inspired by their lively captain, the hosts continued to stretch their Championship visitors, with Martial curling into the grateful arms of Al Habsi.
Rooney was heavily involved as United made it 2-0.
This time he played a one-two to put in Martial in the inside-left channel and the youngster casually curled the ball through Liam Moore’s legs and into the bottom-right corner.
– Al Habsi calamity –
United were forced into an early change in the 19th minute when Rojo limped off to be replaced by Phil Jones.
This coincided with Reading’s best spell in the game, Joey van den Berg sending a volley spinning just wide with Garath McCleary unable to apply the finishing touch.
United should have made it 3-0 in the 26th minute, but after skipping around Al Habsi, Rashford lost his composure and could only fire into the side-netting.
After equalling Charlton’s record, Rooney attempted to break it on the half-hour, only for his attempted chip to clear the bar by a few feet.
A first-time pass from Rooney then put Rashford in again, but the striker was this time foiled by Al Habsi.
Mata looked determined to play his part in Rooney’s party and twice before the break he should have done better in scoring positions.
First, his shot was charged down and then he floated a poor effort well over the bar, before Martial stabbed wide from Rashford’s cross.
Two minutes after the break, Rooney had another chance to surpass Charlton, but he skied Rashford’s cross at the far post with his outstretched left foot.
Marouane Fellaini twice did superbly in the build-up to tee Rooney up in front of goal in the second half, but the ball flicked up into the air off a Reading foot and the chance was lost.
Rooney turned provider again on the hour by crossing from the left for Rashford, but with the goal gaping Van den Berg stuck out his left foot to deny him in timely fashion.
Rashford finally got on the scoresheet in the 75th minute when Michael Carrick’s fine through pass was missed by Liam Moore, leaving the 19-year-old with the task of slotting the ball past Al Habsi.
There was calamity for Al Habsi as United made it 4-0 four minutes later, the goalkeeper accidentally nudging the ball towards his own goal with his standing foot, allowing Rashford to lash in his second goal.