Rooney: I owed United faithful

There is no superlative that can do justice to the manner with

which Rooney spun round, manipulated his body four feet into the

air, then connected with Nani’s cross with such power Joe Hart

never had chance to move before it flashed into the top corner of

his goal. It will be replayed many years from now and the goal of

the season prize might as well be parcelled up and sent to Old

Trafford right now. However, given Rooney’s tepid form since he

suffered the first of a succession of ankle injuries in Munich last

March, the 25-year-old accepts there was an element of payback as

well. “The Manchester United fans deserve that from me,” he said.

“I haven’t had the best of seasons and I know how big this game is

in Manchester, so I hope they enjoyed that. “Now the aim is to keep

scoring and help us get that title back.” In that regard, Rooney

was somewhat more forceful than Sir Alex Ferguson. Unlike his

manager, who has spent the last few months emphasising just how

crazy this season has been and is presumably far too experienced to

take anything for granted, Rooney was prepared to look at United’s

imposing eight-point lead over their neighbours, check they also

have a game in hand in a season which, for them, has 12 hurdles

left, and discount them from the battle. “It almost certainly rules

City out of the title race unless a disaster happens,” he said. “We

are the team to catch. We know how it feels to be top of the league

and to get over that finish line. “We have the experience with the

manager and the players and we know what we have to do. “Hopefully

within the next six or seven games, we can maintain that gap, or

make it bigger.” For City, it is agony. Evidently, the gap to

United, which for so many years was a yawning chasm, has closed

dramatically. But they just cannot take that final step to bridge

it completely. Knocked out of the Carling Cup semi-final last

season, when they were also beaten by two injury-time goals in the

league. They have now collected just a single point from two

meetings this season when the difference between the sides has been

wafer thin, if it has existed at all. Little wonder Blues legend

Mike Summerbee grew increasingly indignant in his role as a Sky

Sports pundit as the post-match analysis concentrated on where

United had gained the crucial edge. “There were two teams out

there?” he grumbled. “Show our chances. “Manchester United have

spent fortunes, don’t worry about that. They gave us a game. We

have created more chances than them. “One day Manchester City will

come here and take them.” There was a mixture of bitterness and

resignation in Summerbee’s voice, born of spending so long in the

Red Devils shadow, a place, for this season at least, they are

destined to remain. “I don’t think they were that unlucky,”

continued Rooney. “They played OK. They moved the ball well at

times. But they didn’t hurt us. They didn’t penetrate us. “Other

than the Silva chance in the first half, they didn’t really have a

clear chance. We had two or three. “Based on that, we deserved to

win.” Had David Silva converted the third minute chance given to

him by Carlos Tevez, the outcome may well have been different. The

Blues looked more likely to claim victory once Edin Dzeko’s effort

had bounced in off Silva’s back to level Nani’s first-half opener.

Rooney had other ideas, with a goal even Ferguson struggled to

describe. “All the talk will be about the winner, and quite rightly

so, because I have never seen a goal like that in my life,” he

said. “It was absolutely magnificent.” Even Roberto Mancini had to

agree with that. “When a fantastic player like Rooney scores a goal

like that, you can only clap,” said the Italian.