Rooney steals the show at Wembley

Rooney heads home the winning goal as Manchester United retain the League Cup.

    Rooney's form is a good sign for England's World Cup campaign [GALLO/GETTY]

    Wayne Rooney came off the bench to score his 28th goal of the season as Manchester United triumphed 2-1 over Aston Villa in the 50th League Cup final at London's Wembley Stadium.

    Rooney continued his remarkable scoring streak with a 74th minute header after coming on as a first half substitute for United's first goalscorer, Michael Owen.

    Rooney's winning header was his 20th goal in his last 20 matches as United became the first team since Nottingham Forest in 1989 and 1990 to win the cup in successive seasons.

    "I had a little bit of a sore knee for a couple of weeks and I felt it in the game'' Rooney said.

    "I'm delighted to score the winning goal in a Wembley final for the first time.''

    Early lead

    Aston Villa, the first winners of the trophy in 1961, took the lead after five minutes.

    Gabriel Agbonlahor latched onto Ashley Young's long ball only to be hauled down by Nemanja Vidic.

    Despite not even booking the Serbian for denying a goal-scoring opportunity, referee Phil Dowd pointed to the penalty spot and James Milner slotted the ball into the bottom right corner, sending Tomasz Kuszczak the wrong way.

    Michael Owen brought United back into the match with a 13th minute equaliser, swept home with a sweet first touch which would have impressed the watching England manager Fabio Capello.

    However, Owen limped off after 42 minutes with a hamstring injury with Rooney coming on in his place.

    "It was a bad start to the game. We got caught on the hop. The penalty kick, I think it was the right decision," said Ferguson.

    "But we recovered and that's the quality of Michael Owen.

    “Unfortunately he's got a hamstring injury and had to come off and then Wayne comes on and scores a winning goal but the form he's been in, you expect that.

    United went close to scoring when Ji-Sung Park hit the post at the end of the first half and after good buildup play between Berbatov and Antonio Valencia, Rooney met Valencia's cross from close range with a header that had too much power and
    accuracy for Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel to stop.

    Rooney was only denied his 29th goal of the season by the post minutes later but his earlier goal was enough to help increase manager Alex Ferguson's haul of trophies at Old Trafford to 26, including four League Cups.

    Villa also hit the woodwork when an Emile Heskey header bounced off the United bar late in the game.

    Questionable decision

    EPL results

    Saturday February 27

     Birmingham 1-0 Wigan
     Bolton 1-0 Wolverhampton
     Burnley 1-2 Portsmouth
     Chelsea 2-4 Man City
     Stoke 1-3 Arsenal

    Sunday February 28

     Liverpool 2-1 Blackburn
     Sunderland 0-0 Fulham
     Tottenham 2-1 Everton

    Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill, whose team are also in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, was unhappy that the referee did not send off United defender Nemanja Vidic for the foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor which led to the penalty.

    "I thought the referee got it wrong and most people who saw it would side with me,'' he said.

    "The trophy's gone to Manchester United. I hope that this taste of Wembley here will drive my team on to come back here again.''

    In Sunday's English Premier League matches, Tottenham Hotspur secured a 2-1 home win over Everton with goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Luka Modric in their battle for the fourth spot.

    Fernando Torres scored on his first start in six weeks as Liverpool beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 and Sunderland and Fulham battled to a 0-0 draw.

    Spurs reclaimed fourth on 49 points, above City on goal difference. Liverpool remain sixth on 48 with Aston Villa seventh on 45.

    Chelsea still lead the way with 61 points, one ahead of Manchester United. Arsenal, 3-1 winners at Stoke City, are third on 58 points. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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