Rooney dismisses penalty nerves
Wayne Rooney insisted he felt no nerves as he strode up to take the penalty he hopes will kick-start his season.
Even though there were just four minutes remaining on his first start since the beginning of October, and the Manchester United forward had just one goal to his name all season, he finished with clinical efficiency, sending Allan McGregor the wrong way to seal a 1-0 win over Rangers.
The goal took United into the knockout phase of the Champions League with a game to spare, almost certainly as group winners.
But more importantly, it signalled Rooney's return in a season scarred by personal problems, loss of form, injury and that amazing week last month which started with a fear that he would leave Old Trafford and ended with the 25-year-old signing a new five-year contract.
"There were not many nerves really," said Rooney.
"I knew what I was doing and where I was going. I can only do that. If the keeper guesses the right way and saves it, so be it. Thankfully it went in.
"Obviously it is a bit of a relief for me to score. Hopefully I can build on this now."
Rooney's only other goal this season came from the penalty spot too, against West Ham in August, and he was quick to race away to the United section of a packed Ibrox, another step forward in rebuilding his relationship with the club's fans.
"I wanted to celebrate with our fans," he said. "It is always nice to beat Rangers away.
"Hopefully I can go on a goalscoring run now but really I am just delighted to be back playing again.
"I felt good. I felt fit throughout the game. I want to build on this performance and this goal."
Sir Alex Ferguson will hope for the same, knowing the man who contributed 34 goals to United's effort last season has been a shadow of his former self since first injuring an ankle in the Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich in March.
"It took courage but he has never been short of that," said Ferguson of Rooney's late effort.
"It was a fantastic penalty.
"He needs the games. The way we are going to do that is to keep him on he pitch for 90 minutes.
"That will continue now as we try to get him to his level. He is rusty, that is obvious, but it is a start for him."