Rooney returns to sink Palace

LONDON - Wayne Rooney returned from injury to give Manchester United manager David Moyes his first win at Old Trafford as the striker's free-kick clinched a 2-0 victory over 10-man Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Neither Robin van Persie nor Rooney had the most distinguished game, in keeping with pretty much everyone in United's colours, but their goals won this match and they have now scored 28 times in the 23 Premier League games they have started together.

Rooney's was a free-kick, curled into the bottom corner, nine minutes from the end after Van Persie had put United into the lead in first-half stoppage-time with a contentious penalty that left an air of inevitability about the rest of the match bearing in mind the grievous damage inflicted on Crystal Palace.

As well as going a goal down, they also lost Kagisho Dikgacoi to a red card in the process. After that, they probably did quite well to restrict their opponents to one more goal.

United never really got into their stride on a day when the street-sellers on Sir Matt Busby Way were doing a fine trade in Marouane Fellaini wigs and the £27.5m signing had half an hour as a second-half substitute.

Yet Moyes will be glad to notch up his first Old Trafford win and see his team back on the scoresheet after two games without a goal, especially with the added pressure of Sir Alex Ferguson watching from the stands, approximately 20 yards over his left shoulder.

This was Ferguson's first time at a match since his retirement and he will have enjoyed seeing Adnan Januzaj also get a run-out as a second-half substitute and the first indications why the former manager regards him as one of the more exciting players to come through Old Trafford's system for some years. Januzaj won the free-kick for Rooney's goal and, like Fellaini, seemed eager to impress.

Overall, however, it was a fairly straightforward win for United, especially with the extra man in the second half.

Pretty similar, in other words, to a lot of the team's victories in Ferguson's final year: fully deserved, never really in doubt, but also leaving the sense this team is capable of more.

It is just a shame the occasion also featured the latest incident to squeeze into Ashley Young's portfolio of diving offences – and it can only be hoped Moyes makes his position clear on it.

Young, lest it be forgotten, was reprimanded by Ferguson for this kind of conniving a couple of seasons ago and it is to his discredit that his trademark is not his dribbling, or crossing, or shooting, but still his propensity for deception.

His latest offence smacked of a player with no apparent shame, featuring a Pires-style jutting out his leg to initiate contact with a defender and exaggerate the sense of a penalty.

It has become a habit with Young, as several other Premier League teams can testify. Fortunately the referee, Jon Moss, saw straight through it.

Young was also involved when Moss did point to the penalty spot and, this time, probably deserves the benefit of the doubt. – Agencies

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