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Rooney sparks Yokohama excitement

By Steve Wyeth
BBC Manchester reporter in Yokohama

Wayne Rooney scores his first goal against Gamba Osaka
Rooney put United 3-1 up with his first touch after coming on as a substitute

Well, Manchester United's 5-3 win over Gamba Osaka was the kind of match worth flying halfway around the world for.

A contest that, by the end, had you as open-mouthed in disbelief as the country that staged it, and within half an hour of full-time had seen Sir Alex Ferguson deliver a gem of a quote to rival any he's uttered during his 22-year tenure.

Eight goals, a casual approach to defending and a cameo from Wayne Rooney that would have been just the tonic for a small band of hardy Brits in attendance.

Whilst some of us have been acclimatising - culturally as well as physically - for three days, there were plenty of visiting supporters, and journalists, who touched down in Japan on the morning of the match.

Steve Wyeth (second right) and fans in Yokohama
Steve Wyeth (second right) meets fans from both sides in Yokohama

Believe me, remember how I felt on my first evening, the last thing any of them could have coped with was a goalless draw.

I wonder if the lingering TV shots of Ronaldo were what spurred Rooney into instigating the evening's madness and grabbing him a slice of the headlines?

When Rooney arrived as a 72nd minute substitute, the match was petering out to a 2-0 United victory.

Just 18 minutes later we had had six more goals and in the midst of it Rooney had scored twice and forced the referee to produce a yellow card for the first time.

But wait, Fergie was not about to let his players upstage him.

Whilst Ronaldo was content to chat about how he could do nothing about the latest attempts by Real Madrid to unsettle him, the Spaniards' tactics had obviously touched a nerve with his manager.

Had a gentleman's agreement been reached with Real over Ronaldo, Sir Alex? "Would I get into a contract with that mob? I wouldn't sell them a virus". That'll be a "no" then.

Remarkably, United have now started to switch back towards UK time ahead of the Boxing Day match at Stoke, despite still having the final against Ecuador's Liga da Quito, to play.

I wonder what time zone their body clocks will be operating in when Sunday comes around?

What's for sure is that there won't be enough time to feel anything like you've got to grips with life in Japan.

If the constant bowing of the hotel staff does not have you thinking you are royalty, then the salutes that come from any acknowledgement of security staff at the Yokohama International Stadium will have you believing you're an Army General.

If only those same officials weren't so insistent on denying me access to the only lift that connects the media centre on the third floor and the broadcasting area on the fifth. Apparently I have to find another way.

Well I guess you'll just have to beam me up, Scotty.



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see also
Gamba Osaka 3-5 Man Utd
18 Dec 08 |  Man Utd
Man Utd's Japanese adventure
17 Dec 08 |  Man Utd


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