MANCHESTER UNITED 3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0
CAPTAIN Wayne Rooney made light of his home boxing video controversy after helping Manchester United muster their best display under manager Louis van Gaal to overwhelm Tottenham yesterday.
Rooney, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini all scored in a whirlwind first half as United bounced back from FA Cup exit and tightened their grip on a top-four Premier League place – at the expense of rivals Spurs.
It came after a clip emerged yesterday of the England striker appearing to be knocked out during a friendly fist-fight at his home with former team-mate Phil Bardsley.
Rooney amused Old Trafford by referencing the video with his goal celebration, shadow-boxing and then falling theatrically to the turf, and defended his conduct after the match. “It’s in my own home, it’s not public, it’s what friends do; they mess around in the house,” he said.
Van Gaal refused to discuss Rooney’s boxing, branding discussion “ridiculous”, but praised his skipper for addressing players on the eve of the match as they looked to respond to Monday’s cup exit. “The players know this game was of massive importance so I think a captain has to do something to help the players or help the manager or help the club,” he added. “I was very pleased.”
Victory kept United one point behind third-placed Arsenal and moved them to within just two of Manchester City, themselves six adrift of leaders Chelsea.
Error-ridden Tottenham could have moved level with United but instead lie seventh, six points behind Van Gaal’s men and also trailing Liverpool and Southampton in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
“I am worried about our performance,” said Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, who conceded it may have been the worst of his eight months in charge. “I don’t remember when was the last time we had a similar performance.”
Carrick freed Fellaini to drill the first on nine minutes before heading the second himself. Rooney seized on Nabil Bentaleb’s wayward pass to charge through and beat Hugo Lloris on 34 minutes.