Champions League - United thrash Leverkusen to cruise into last 16

Champions League, Group A, BayArena – Bayer Leverkusen 0 Manchester United 5 (Valencia 22, Spahic o.g. 30, Evans 65, Smalling 77, Nani 88).

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Champions League - United thrash Leverkusen to cruise into last 16
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Chris Smalling and Wayne Rooney of Manchester United celebrate (Reuters)

Manchester United qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League with a thumping 5-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen.

Despite being without Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick, the visitors put forth their best shift in the David Moyes era, although their opposition was as poor as they will face in Europe.

Antonio Valencia converted Wayne Rooney’s cross to put United ahead, with an Emir Spahic own-goal doubling the lead.

Leverkusen improved after conceding the second, with Stefan Reinartz hitting the post and David De Gea denying Spahic with the follow up.

But the excellent Jonny Evans put any hopes of a comeback to bed, finishing from close range after the hosts failed to clear a corner.

Chris Smalling added a fourth, with Rooney again the architect after a defensive error from Giulio Donati, while Nani rubbed salt in the wounds with a cool chipped finish after Ryan Giggs – who turns 40 this week – played him through.

United qualify but, following Shakhtar Donetsk’s win over Real Sociedad, they must avoid defeat at home to the Ukrainians to win the group. Incredibly, Leverkusen can still go through if they beat Sociedad and Shakhtar lose at Old Trafford.

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KEY MOMENTS

PRE-MATCH: Phil Jones and Giggs started in central midfield with Marouane Fellaini suspended and Carrick injured. Van Persie also missed out, meaning a rare start for Nani.

21’ – CHANCE: Evans with a vital tackle to deny Stefan Kiessling a goal after Rio Ferdinand was caught out by the striker.

22’ – GOAL (Leverkusen 0-1 United): Seconds after that chance, United break with Shinji Kagawa, who picks out Ryan Giggs. He finds Rooney, who whips in a fine cross that Valencia converts. Great team goal.

30’ – GOAL (Leverkusen 0-2 United): Chris Smalling is close to heading in a Rooney free-kick but Spahic’s intervention results in an own-goal.

61’ – WOODWORK/SAVE: Reinhartz meets a corner, his finish hits the post and Spahic seeks to bury the rebound but De Gea bats it away.

65’ – GOAL (Leverkusen 0-3 United): Evans scrambles home after Leno makes a save following a corner. Leverkusen ball-watching again. Game over.

77’– GOAL (Leverkusen 0-4 United): Smalling slides it into an open goal from Rooney’s clever dinked cross. Kagawa also involved after Donati gives the ball to him.

88’– GOAL (Leverkusen 0-5 United): Nani rounds Leno and chips it in from an angle after a fine pass from the evergreen Giggs.

KEY STATS

United break a run of four away CL matches without a win, which had been their worst in nine years.

Leverkusen are winless in their six games against Manchester United in the Champions League (D2, L4), failing to keep a single clean sheet in the process.

Leverkusen have lost nine of their last 10 Champions League games against English sides (W1).

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TALKING POINT

Are United good enough to sustain a challenge? Moyes’s side were helped by a terrible performance from Leverkusen, but it was the best they had played all season. Will have to do more against the top sides, but they look like their old selves.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) – Shades several candidates, including Jonny Evans, but gets the nod for his three assists.

PLAYER RATINGS

Leverkusen: Leno 6, Spahic 4, Omer Toprak 5, Donati 4, Reinartz 5, Rolfes 6, Bender 6, Can 4, Castro 6, Heung-Min Son 6, Kiessling 5; Subs: Hegeler 5, Derdiyok 6, Kohr NA.

United: De Gea 7; Smalling 7, Ferdinand 6, Evans 8, Evra 7; Giggs 7, Jones 6; Valencia 7, Kagawa 7, Nani 7; Rooney 8; Subs: Büttner 6, Anderson 6, Young 6.

THE MATCH IN A TWEET

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