Indeed, it had appeared the game would fizzle out into another 0-0 draw, but when Steven Naismith felled Fabio inside the penalty area as the Brazilian headed goalwards, referee Massimo Busacca pointed immediately to the spot. Rooney stepped up and did the rest.
Sir Alex’s men had arrived in Glasgow without first-choice centre-backs Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, but the back four of John O’Shea, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Fabio, a combination that had never previously taken to the pitch, repelled all Rangers could throw at them. That wasn’t much.
Playing at Ibrox, that famous cauldron of partisan ferocity, Rangers might have been expected to show more adventure. But the home team’s ambition amounted to little more than sporadic counter-attacks, meaning Sir Alex's men are now just one match away from becoming the first team to navigate the Champions League group stage without conceding a goal.
The Reds enjoyed plenty of possession in the early exchanges and Paul Scholes probed for openings from the first whistle. The 35-year-old, a veteran of more Champions League games than the entire Rangers side put together, dropped deep to collect the ball from the back four and ping long passes into enemy territory. He orchestrated the move that led to Dimitar Berbatov’s unsuccessful penalty appeal in the second minute and found Giggs on the left flank shortly afterwards.