Wayne Rooney made history by becoming Manchester United’s all-time leading scorer with a stunning free-kick in stoppage time to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw against Stoke City.
The captain curled home a spectacular effort in the 94th-minute to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s longstanding record and net his 250th goal for the club.
It looked like it was going to be a frustrating afternoon for United after an Erik Pieters cross was deflected past David De Gea off the unfortunate Juan Mata to leave Stoke on the brink of three points. But Rooney had other ideas and rescued Jose Mourinho’s men, who extend their unbeaten record in all competitions to 17 games.
Mourinho made four changes from last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool with Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata restored in place of Matteo Darmian, the ill Marcos Rojo, Michael Carrick and Anthony Martial.
Boosted by Liverpool’s surprise defeat by Swansea in the lunchtime kick-off, the Reds settled well into the game in the early exchanges and almost benefitted when Lee Grant dropped Ander Herrera’s free-kick after seven minutes, but the Stoke defence cleared the danger before Zlatan Ibrahimovic could pounce.
It was a largely scrappy opening with both sides feeling each other out but, out of nothing, the hosts took the lead after 19 minutes when a low cross by Pieters deflected off Mata at the near post and went through De Gea.
The Reds responded positively to the setback as Fellaini got in between the Stoke centre-backs to rise highest from Mata’s inviting cross but he could only direct his header straight at Grant.
On the half-hour mark, Mata was presented with a great chance to make amends for the own goal, but he could only turn Ibrahimovic’s square pass over the crossbar.
With the momentum firmly in our favour, United created a number of opportunities as Smalling headed Ander Herrera’s cross over and Mkhitaryan, on his 28th birthday, fired a shot over the top from Valencia’s cutback.
Grant impressed when the sides drew 1-1 at Old Trafford back in October and the Stoke keeper was on top form again, denying Fellaini’s miscued effort before reacting well to parry Pogba’s stinging volley from a Blind corner.
But despite being much the better team in the first half, the Reds were left to reflect on a one-goal deficit heading into the break.
HALF-TIME MATCH STATS:
Possession: Stoke 39% United 61%
Shots: Stoke 1 United 12
Shots on target: Stoke 0 United 4
Corners: Stoke 0 United 3
United continued to look dangerous and cause problems for the Potters defence after the restart but Mourinho didn’t wait long to inject some additional pace in the form of Marcus Rashford, in place of Fellaini.
On the hour-mark, appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Mark Clattenburg after Mata’s shot from Pogba’s centre was blocked by the hand of Glenn Whelan as he went to ground.
At the other end, Xherdan Shaqiri’s ambitious half-volley from distance was kept out by De Gea in a rare foray forward from the hosts.
The Reds laid siege to the Stoke goal, which lived a charmed life during a one-sided second half, with Jesse Lingard and Wayne Rooney introduced in place of Mata and Mkhitaryan to help pile on the pressure.
As the Potters continued to tire, Rashford curled an effort agonisingly wide of the post after bringing down Rooney’s cross before Pogba linked up well with the captain and cracked a left-footed shot off target.
Lingard struck the top of the crossbar with a thunderous right-footed shot before Rooney popped up with the decisive and historic moment in the dying stages to earn the Reds a share of the spoils.
FULL-TIME MATCH STATS:
Possession: Stoke 35% United 65%
Shots: Stoke 6 United 25
Shots on target: Stoke 1 United 8
Corners: Stoke 1 United 7
Stoke City: Grant; Johnson, Shawcross (c), Martins Indi, Pieters; Adam (Afellay 63), Whelan; Shaqiri (Ngoy 74), Allen, Arnautovic (Imbula 88); Crouch.
Subs not used: Given; Bardsley, Muniesa, Bojan.
Booked: Arnautovic, Grant, Pieters, Allen
United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling (c), Blind; Pogba, Herrera; Mata (Rooney 67), Fellaini (Rashford 56), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 73); Ibrahimovic.
Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Carrick, Schweinsteiger.