Tuesday night was an historic night for English football as Wayne Rooney passed Sir Bobby Charlton’s England goal-scoring record. His late penalty against Switzerland brought up his half century and – to use another cricket analogy – he is still at the crease! It is certain that Rooney’s total will rise further and, whilst it isn’t international football that is this week’s Throwback Thursday, it was most definitely ‘Wayne’s World’ back on September 10th 2011. Neil Evans remembers the day for us…
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So let’s whiz back in time (Marty McFly-style) to the, then, Reebok stadium and Manchester United’s visit to Bolton Wanderers and another Rooney record-setting day…
Fresh from banging in a hat-trick in his previous game – the unforgettable 8-2 annihilation of Arsenal – Rooney continued his, and United’s, imperious start to the 2011/12 season. Of the United line-up that day, only Phil Jones, Ashley Young and the unsettled David de Gea remain alongside Rooney this season. But Rooney rampaged through the Trotters defence with the grace of a gazelle and the deadly accuracy of a jungle predator.
United started with ruthless intent, ‘Chicharito’ netting after five minutes for the first of a brace that was the supporting cast to Rooney’s main event. Hernandez’s deliciously teasing cross from the right found Rooney’s outstretched right-foot to prod the Red Devils into a two-goal lead (Rooney’s eighth goal in just four Premier League games) as Wanderers were left in a whirl. By the 25th minute the game was over as a contest as Jones’ jaunt forward ended with his shot being saved by Jaaskelainen, only for the ball to fall invitingly for Rooney to tap in from eight yards – this one into the bottom left corner. Another close range Hernandez goal increased the visitors’ advantage to four on 58 minutes, but Rooney saved the best for last as his curling right-footed drive from the edge of the box completed his second three-goal haul in a week.
With that 68th-minute strike, United declared for the afternoon, while the only dampener on a sparkling afternoon was a Kevin Davies challenge on Tom Cleverley that resulted in a damaged ankle for the midfielder.
The back-to-back hat-trick by Wayne Rooney was the fourth in Premier League history and brought him level (with delicious irony) with Sir Bobby Charlton on seven for Manchester United, plus also making him the club’s joint-fourth hat-trick hero behind other Reds legends, Violet, Law and Rowley. Six goals in a week was a truly astonishing feat, with Sir Alex’s charges playing the free-flowing, expansive football that epitomised that season. But it would be the blue half of Manchester singing at the season’s end, with City becoming champions of England for the first time since 1968! Rooney also ended the season second in the goal-scoring charts, his 27 trumped by Arsenal’s Robin van Persie with 30.
Rooney remains a pivotal figure in United and England’s respective dressing rooms, his legendary status assured. He may not be quite at the peak of his powers today, but we should all sit back and enjoy Wayne’s World for as long as it lasts. We won’t see his like for some time to come.
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