Wayne Rooney broke Manchester United’s all-time scoring record in dramatic fashion, bending home a stunning 250th goal to secure a hard-fought draw at Stoke deep in stoppage time.
Just as the match looked to be slipping through United’s fingers at the bet365 Stadium, the 31-year-old stepped up – like he has done so many times since joining from Everton in 2004 – to land a crucial blow. Rooney’s outstanding free-kick sent the visiting support wild, cancelling out Juan Mata’s first-half own goal and securing a 1-1 draw that saw the captain move clear as United’s all-time top scorer in front of Sir Bobby Charlton. The forward is not unequivocally loved like the man he has usurped as United’s all-time top scorer, but his impact at the club is undeniable. Rooney and United had looked set to return home frustrated, with the captain watching from the bench as Stoke went ahead through Mata’s own goal in a first half in which they failed to muster a shot on target.
Jose Mourinho would call upon the forward in the 67th minute but there looked to be no way past well-drilled Stoke, with last-ditch defending, fine goalkeeping from Lee Grant and wayward finishing putting United’s 16-match unbeaten run in all competitions in jeopardy. However, United did not give up and Rooney bent home a fine free-kick from an acute angle to the delight of the visiting supporters and the watching Charlton. it was a thrilling end to a match that looked to be going Stoke’s way after such a sloppy start by United.
The Stoke supporters in the bet365 Stadium crowd went through a range of emotions, starting with anger that Marko Arnautovic was booked moments after Chris Smalling avoided a yellow card before relief as Grant’s spill of the free-kick came to nothing. In the 19th minute came collective Stoke joy as United were caught cold.
A long kick was flicked on by Peter Crouch and Stoke attacked down the left, with Arnautovic’s lay-off finding Erik Pieters to hit a fizzing cross that deflected off Mata and past David de Gea.Spaniard Mata had lost the full-back as the hosts raced forward and then wasted a gilt-edged chance to atone for Stoke’s opener.Paul Pogba played a lovely clipped ball over the hosts’ backline to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, only for his weighted cross to somehow be scooped over by Mata at the far post.
United were at that stage in the ascendancy and pushed hard for a first-half equaliser, only to be denied by a familiar foe.