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Monday 18 December 2017

Trophies are my No1 goal

Medals will mean more than equalling Ron haul says final hero Rooney

Wayne Rooney would prefer more medals to accolades for equalling Cristiano Ronaldo's 42-goal tally of two seasons ago.

Manchester United's star striker is on 28 for the season following his Carling Cup final match-winner against Aston Villa at Wembley.

With a maximum 16 games to play, Rooney is in line to catch the total that helped Ronaldo become World Player of the Year. But Rooney only has eyes for the Premier League and Champions League trophies United will now turn their attention to after successfully defending a cup competition for the first time.

"Cristiano got 42 but I am just looking to contribute to us winning medals," said the 24-year-old.

"If that happens (42 goals) it would be great but as long as we win medals it would be even better."

News that Rooney has picked up a knee injury that makes him a doubt for England's friendly with Egypt at Wembley on Wednesday will only heighten fears that too much is being asked of a man who is so important to both club and country.

But Rooney insists he is not concerned about burn-out. "I don't feel any pressure or burden really," he said.

"To be honest, I have probably had pressure since I was 16 so it is something you get used to and deal with in your own way."

Rooney's looping header completed a successful comeback for United, who trailed to James Milner's fourth-minute penalty.

Martin O'Neill found sympathy with his view that Nemanja Vidic should have been sent off and, had the Serbian gone so early in the contest, United would have been in trouble.

Instead, referee Phil Dowd took a lenient stance and did not even book the Serbian, so once Michael Owen had limped off with a hamstring injury after he had scored an excellent equaliser, the scene was set for Rooney to finish the hero.



MARK

"I was champing at the bit to get on," he said. "You want to play in finals. Thankfully, I have managed to do so and left my mark on the game.

"I knew on Wednesday or Thursday I wouldn't be playing. I had a little bit of a stomach bug and the manager was looking for an excuse to leave me out. When he found out about that it made his mind up.

"I was still disappointed but it was the correct decision by the manager."

Villa keeper Brad Friedel afterwards urged his team-mates to put their frustration behind them -- by returning to Wembley for the FA Cup final in May.

Friedel believes the failure by referee Dowd to send off Vidic was a crucial factor in the result.

Friedel is convinced the heavy pitch would have taken its toll on United had they had to play virtually the whole game with 10 men.

But he wants Martin O'Neill's side to try and make amends in the FA Cup ahead of Sunday's quarter-final at Reading. Friedel said: "We started the game really well. We have seen the penalty now and it really should have been a sending-off.

"You feel really hard done because you would have liked to be playing against 10 men. But it wasn't to be, we will take the loss and hopefully get back to winning ways in the FA Cup next Sunday.

"We feel a bit hard done by that we didn't play with a man advantage, especially on a pitch as heavy as that and cutting up like that.

"With 10 men, they would have really tired towards the end but it wasn't to be. Hopefully we will get back here in the FA Cup and that is everyone's aim now. We will try and be determined to get here in May."



penalty

Villa defender Carlos Cuellar echoed Friedel's sentiments about the failure to dismiss Vidic.

The Spaniard said: "For me it is a penalty and a sending-off. I think everyone says the same.

"You saw the sending-off of (Juliano) Belletti in the Chelsea- Manchester City game for something similar on Saturday.

"I think this was even more clear. But different referees make different decisions and you never know what would have happened had we had the extra man."

Midfielder Milner was taking no consolation from an encouraging performance by Villa in their first major final for 10 years and believes United's extra experience may have been crucial.

He said: "We didn't play too badly but that is not what it is about and, in finals, it is about getting a result and winning the game.

"We came up against an experienced side who have played in a lot of finals and maybe that told in the end.

"But I don't think we did ourselves any harm. We put in a good performance, had chances."

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