1-0, min. 19, Mata OG. 1-1, min. 90+4 Rooney.
Stoke City 1-1 Manchester United: Rooney becomes Red Devils' leading goalscorer with 94th minute free-kick

Stoke City 1-1 Manchester United: Rooney becomes Red Devils' leading goalscorer with 94th minute free-kick

Wayne Rooney scored his 250th goal for Manchester United to succeed Sir Bobby Charlton as United's top scorer in the 94th minute and maintain United's unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions away at Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.

charlie-malam
Charlie Malam

Wayne Rooney rescued a late point for Manchester United against Stoke City with a sublime stoppage-time free-kick to become the club's leading goalscorer on 250 and extend United's unbeaten run to 17 games. 

It looked as though the Red Devils would fall to their first defeat in all competitions since November 3rd at the Bet365 Stadium after trailing to Juan Mata's first-half own goal from Erik Pieters' cross.

United dominated the rest of the first-half after that opening goal but weren't clinical enough, Mata's misery continuing as he missed an open goal from five yards out after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's set-up.

The Red Devils were dominant again in the second-half but it took substitute Rooney's sublime set-piece in the 94th minute to break Stoke's resistance, the United captain earning a point with his first Premier League goal since August.

More importantly, that stunning strike takes him past Sir Bobby Charlton as the club's record goalscorer on 250 goals in this his 546th appearance - 212 games quicker than his countryman.

United make four changes from Liverpool draw

Mark Hughes' Stoke remained unchanged from the side that swept Sunderland aside last weekend with three goals in a blitzing first 35 first-half minutes.

That meant Peter Crouch started again, the towering striker in search of a fourth goal in as many games and his 100th in the Premier League overall, supported by a triumvirate of Marko Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Joe Allen.

Jose Mourinho meanwhile made four changes, Chris Smalling and Juan Mata came in for Marcos Rojo and Anthony Martial - although the defender was later spotted in the away end.

Midfielder Marouane Fellaini - who came off the bench to play a crucial role in earning a point at home to Liverpool last week - started in place of the absent Michael Carrick while Daley Blind replaced Darmian at left-back.

Stoke strike first at sub-zero Bet365

On a bitterly cold afternoon in the Potteries, much of the early action centred around referee Mark Clattenburg - after new signing Saido Berahino was officially introduced to his new fans, that is.

The Stoke supporters consistently voiced their frustrations at the Clattenburg's decision-making, Arnautovic going into match official's book for crudely ending a United counter-attack early on, albeit a decision the natives far from agreed with.

Those rising tensions - the Stoke fans growing increasingly louder in their discontent - papered over the cracks of a game that was low on quality to begin with, some of Crouch's touches exempt.

Yet without either side managing a single shot on target, the Potters took the lead after 19 minutes. Allen released Arnautovic into space down the left and he did cut back to find the on-running Erik Pieters.

Upon reaching the by-line, the defender's cross into the near post took a nick off of Mata and De Gea couldn't react fast enough at his near post, the ball ricocheting off the Spaniard and into the bottom corner to hand Stoke an unexpected breakthrough.

After that, United overcame a brief surge in intensity from Stoke and dominated the game without reward. Fellaini's header from a Mata cross on 27 minutes was the game's first shot on target, but ultimately resulted in an easy save for Lee Grant.

Mata wastes gilt-edged opportunity 

The Red Devils should have drawn level on 32 minutes, when Paul Pogba released Ibrahimovic into space down the left. The Swede's first touch allowed him to bring the ball under control and square to Mata at the back post, but with an open net, Mata - somehow - could only hook his attempt over the crossbar.

And United wasted another good opportunity soon after, Ibrahimovic played onside by Bruno Martins-Indi to receive Henrikh Mkhitaryan's through ball. But the striker hesitated to either shoot or cross, allowing the hosts to recover and scramble clear.

After Mkhitaryan's shank into the stands from Antonio Valencia's lay-off, United finally forced Grant - the man largely responsible for earning Stoke a 1-1 draw in the reverse contest between these two teams back in October - into some meaningful action.

The 'keeper, who made his move from Derby County to Stoke permanent earlier this month, had to backtrack to tip Fellaini's drilled strike into the ground over the bar before batting away Pogba's thunderous volley from the following corner.

Wasteful United continue to rue missed chances

United were similarly lacklustre in front of goal in a distinctly flatter second-half, best summed up by Mata attempting an overhead kick only a few yards out but missing the ball altogether.

Mourinho summoned Marcus Rashford from the bench and even though Stoke left spaces open to exploit at the back, United couldn't take advantage.

And the longer the second 45 wore on, Stoke grew in confidence themselves - Shaqiri's 25-yard half-volley bringing their first shot on target of the game on 64 minutes.

They almost struck the decisive blow moments later, but after a good flowing move Shaqiri's effort bending towards the far bottom corner was well blocked.

With over 20 minutes remaining, Mourinho looked to captain Wayne Rooney - looking for that 250th goal to take him beyond Sir Bobby Charlton as the club's leading goalscorer - and Jesse Lingard to add some invention and penetration.

Late Rooney intervention saves a point

But time after time United failed to take their chances, substitute Rashford curling wide of the far top corner after Rooney's cross dropped to him in space.

And even despite committing great numbers forward, United were left continually frustrated - Pogba firing wide from range and Rooney flicking a header over.

They had genuine claims for a penalty in the closing minutes, Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross seemingly controlling the ball with his arms inside the box as he looked to clear.

United's desperate search for a late equaliser looked though it would end on way when Lingard's powerful effort that grazed the top of the crossbar.

But deep into stoppage time, the fourth of five added minutes late on in fact, Rooney curled a free-kick beyond Grant and into the far top corner to write history with a long-awaited record-breaker.

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