• Cardiff City 2-2 Manchester United, Premier League

Rooney the centre of attention as United falter

ESPN staff
November 24, 2013
Wayne Rooney clashed with Jordon Mutch in the first half as the two fought for a loose ball, and the Manchester United striker was lucky to escape with a yellow card © Getty Images
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Wayne Rooney scored one goal and made another, but once again it was under a cloud of controversy for the Manchester United striker as his side were held to a surprising 2-2 draw in Cardiff.

Rooney clashed with Jordon Mutch midway through the first half and appeared to aim a kick at the Cardiff midfielder's ankle, but referee Neil Swarbrick saw fit only to issue a yellow card.

Soon after, Rooney swept home the opening goal via a deflection, before Fraizer Campbell equalised thanks to a terrific pass from Mutch that set him free on goal past Jonny Evans. However, Rooney regained the advantage for United when his swinging corner was met by Patrice Evra shortly before half-time, and the Frenchman's header looked as though it would be enough to secure all three points for David Moyes' side.

However, a header from Kim Bo-Kyung as the match entered stoppage time salvaged a warranted draw for Cardiff, although they had to survive a gilt-edged chance squandered deep in stoppage time by none other than Rooney.

United's unbeaten run now extends to 10 games but they missed out on the chance to climb into the top four and an ineffectual display, particularly in midfield, indicates there is still plenty of work ahead for manager Moyes.

It could arguably have been even worse for the defending Premier League champions had Rooney been sent of by referee Swarbrick in the eighth minute. The England forward kicked Cardiff midfielder Mutch before lashing out with his left hand as his run was blocked off. Swarbrick deemed a yellow card to be strong enough punishment and it was almost inevitable that it was Rooney who opened the scoring in the 15th minute.

Ben Turner gifted Antonio Valencia possession and when the winger's ball ran through to Rooney, via a flick from Javier Hernandez, he turned and shot beyond David Marshall with the aid of a deflection off Gary Medel.

Marshall then pushed out a goalbound Marouane Fellaini header at the back post. Cardiff needed to settle and they slowly but surely found a foothold before hitting back in the 33rd minute. Mutch was the architect with a lovely pass for Campbell to race on to and guide past the advancing David De Gea for his first goal since August.

Campbell volleyed over a few minutes later, with Don Cowie prodding wide from an Andrew Taylor pull-back as the home side grew in belief. But they were punished right on half-time for some poor set-piece defending. Rooney swung in the corner and Medel simply allowed Evra to wander away from him and head in at the near post.

They almost came undone from another Rooney delivery early in the second half but Marshall made an agile save from Fellaini's glancing header, before blocking Chris Smalling's more powerful effort from the resulting corner.

Having survived those scares, Cardiff came close to a leveller. Rooney could not control Tom Cleverley's poor pass and Campbell pounced to chip De Gea, only to see the ball come back off the bar.

Cleverley headed narrowly over his own bar before Ryan Giggs came on in place of Hernandez to face his hometown club for the first time, making them his 117th opponents as a United player.

Substitute Danny Welbeck should have made the game safe for United after a nice link-up with Rooney, but fired over the bar, before Cleverley was booked for a wild and ugly challenge on Whittingham.

Welbeck's miss proved costly as Kim got ahead of his marker to head beyond De Gea and spark delirious Cardiff celebrations.

United could yet have snatched a winner, but Rooney's attempted lay-off for Welbeck was under-hit, and Marshall gratefully pounced on the loose ball.

Patrice Evra climbs highest amongst a crowd of bodies to head Manchester United in front © Getty Images
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