Lady luck shined on Wayne Rooney after his foot almost gave way when stepping up to the penalty spot in Manchester United’s victory over Braga last night.
The 27-year-old striker has had a formidable spot-kick record of late – he sent his last one wide against Arsenal on Sunday – but brushed off competition from teammates to emphatically finish on a rain-drenched pitch.
But as the England ace stepped up, the soaking spot nearly caused disaster for Rooney, and he admitted that he was lucky to guide it in the back of the net.
“Obviously I was disappointed at the weekend, not only to miss but to miss the target,” he said. “I said after [Arsenal] it wasn’t good enough and [against Braga] I was a bit fortunate, I slipped but thankfully it’s gone in so I’m happy with that.
“At the time it happened so quick, but obviously I’ve seen it going towards the goal and the keeper going the other way.
“I was happy with it going in but obviously I’ve been quite lucky with that.”
Not for the first time this season United had to claw their way back into a result after Alan converted his penalty following a clumsy Jonny Evans challenge four minutes after the restart.
But after Robin van Persie’s leveller, Rooney’s penalty and a fumbled effort from Javier Hernandez, United clinched Champions League qualification as group winners with a 3-1 win – and remain the only club in the competition to have a 100% record.
“I think we can play better football – at times it was too slow but the result is the most important thing,” Rooney added.
“I think we had quite a bit of possession, we just needed a bit more movement and speed to our play, and thankfully in the last 10 or 15 minutes, when it mattered, we got them.”
United now face Galatasaray and Cluj before entering the draw for the knockout stage, and Sir Alex Ferguson will take pleasure in being able to rest his star players ahead of a hectic festive fixture list.