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Sunday 11 December 2016

Rooney: slip-ups costing us dearly

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has called on his team-mates to stop conceding ‘silly goals’ that are costing the Red Devils this season, following Tuesday’s 3-3 draw at Newcastle: Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has called on his team-mates to stop conceding ‘silly goals’ that are costing the Red Devils this season, following Tuesday’s 3-3 draw at Newcastle: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Wayne Rooney has warned Manchester United they cannot afford to keep throwing away points if they are to hit their targets this season.

United squandered 2-0 and 3-2 leads at struggling Newcastle on Tuesday evening to draw 3-3, in the process slipping to sixth place in the Premier League table.

Rooney, who edged to within eight goals of Sir Bobby Charlton's club record of 249 with a double at St James' Park, admitted that his side had to find a balance between attack and defence after a game which went some of the way towards exciting the travelling fans.

He said: "After going 2-0 up, we were in control of the game, and then we've let them back into it. To then get our third goal and concede again was disappointing from us.

"They were silly goals to concede on our behalf and they were avoidable. They have cost us two points so we're disappointed.

"We can't keep going on conceding three goals every game, so we have to work on that and create the chances without giving goals away.

"You can score as many goals as you want, but if you keep conceding goals, then it's a problem. We have to keep trying to get that balance right and keep creating chances, scoring goals and keeping them out."

Control

It all started so well for Rooney and his team-mates when the England captain gave them a ninth-minute lead from the penalty spot after defender Chancel Mbemba was adjudged to have handled Daley Blind's corner and when Jesse Lingard made it 2-0 seven minutes before the break, they looked to be in complete control.

But Georginio Wijnaldum pulled one back before half-time and when Aleksandar Mitrovic levelled from the spot with 67 minutes gone after being hauled down by Chris Smalling, the Magpies were in the ascendancy.

Rooney's well-taken second looked to have secured victory with 11 minutes remaining, but Paul Dummett snatched a point at the death when his 90th-minute piledriver was deflected past keeper David de Gea by the unfortunate Smalling.

United, who have now won just twice in 11 games in all competitions, went into the game with manager Louis van Gaal having admitted even he had been bored by some of their recent performances and at 2-2, there were chants of "Attack, attack, attack" from the supporters high up behind Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot's goal.

Van Gaal blamed the negative tactics adopted by the club's opponents for their recent difficulties after the game, but Rooney insists scoring goals remains their focus as they prepare for Sunday's trip to Liverpool.

Rooney said: "We're always trying to create chances.

"Obviously we know that's our aim, that's what we work on everyday at the training ground.

"Sometimes it's difficult, but on nights like tonight we did it so we need to keep working and keep trying to improve."

Meanwhile, defender Smalling is hoping United can make Liverpool pay for their midweek disappointment at Newcastle.

Confident

He said: "In recent times, we've done very well against them - obviously this year at Old Trafford and last season we've got very good results, so we're very confident of going there and causing them a problem.

"If you came into the changing rooms after the match, it was like we'd lost the game. We put ourselves in such a good position and we could have finished it a little bit earlier, but even when we did so well to get to 3-2, we need to hold on and be a bit stronger.

"We got that early goal which settled us down and we could have scored more, but it's about finding that balance so we're not giving away these sloppy goals just before half-time and just before the final whistle."

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