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Wayne Rooney celebrates.

Goal of the Day: Rooney ends Arsenal's unbeaten run

The latest entry in our Goal of the Day series looks at Wayne Rooney's strike against Arsenal from 2004, in a match which was famous for events both on and off the pitch...

Date: 24 October 2004, Old Trafford, Premier League

Background: Wayne Rooney joined Sir Alex Ferguson’s side from Everton in 2004 following a barnstorming summer’s work with England at the European Championships. The striker went on to become United’s all-time leading goalscorer with 253 goals, including 183 Premier League efforts – the first of which came on this day in 2004.

The goal: In a feisty encounter at Old Trafford, the Reds were already leading 1-0 courtesy of Ruud van Nistelrooy’s second-half penalty when Louis Saha collected the ball in midfield, drove forward and set Alan Smith away down the right flank. The former Leeds star spotted Rooney – celebrating his 19th birthday – in the centre and squared for the youngster to emphatically sweep the ball past Jens Lehmann and send Old Trafford into delirium.

What happened next: Arsenal, irked at the end of their 49-game unbeaten league run, took the defeat badly, ensuring a post-match tunnel scuffle which descended into the infamous ‘Battle of the Buffet’, where Cesc Fabregas hurled a slice of pizza at Ferguson. In the wider picture, however, the sides’ squabble ultimately took place in the shadow of Chelsea, who went on to win their first Premier League title under Jose Mourinho.
 
Reaction: “The best young players, like Rooney and Ronaldo, can handle the biggest games,” beamed Ferguson. Rooney would go on to enjoy the fixture immeasurably, netting a 12-goal haul against the Gunners which bested every other player in United history.

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