Darren Fletcher, who has captained United three times on the club's US tour this summer, was in the starting line-up at Sun Life Stadium but Rooney led United out for the first time in the Louis van Gaal era. With Robin van Persie, again missing tonight, unlikely to prove his match fitness ahead of United's Premier League opener against Swansea, Rooney now appears a good bet to be given the skipper's armband on August 14.
Rooney's opposite number Steven Gerrard, never one to go missing against Liverpool's arch rivals, typically led his team by example, coolly sending David De Gea the wrong way from the spot to open the scoring on 14 minutes after Phil Jones had clumsily and recklessly sent the dangerous Raheem Sterling sprawling in the penalty area.
Liverpool should have had a second penalty after Raheem Sterling was upended by Ander Herrera on 33 minutes, but Rooney hit back for United 10 minutes after the break, cleverly sidefooting on the volley a deep Javier Hernandez cross back past Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal. The match was then turned on its head when Juan Mata made it two in as many minutes, the Spaniard's effort from the edge of the box taking a deflection off Mamadou Sakho to leave Mignolet rooted to the spot.
Jesse Lingard, one of many to enter the fray in the second half, sealed victory in the 88th minute, controlling Ashley Young's centre before firing into the back of the net and ensuring Van Gaal picked up his first piece of silverware at the first time of asking as United manager.
6' - FIRST CHANCE FOR UNITED: Young whips in a trademark cross towards the far post where Hernandez, on the stretch, can only direct the ball away from goal. Mata nearly gets there but the ball's cleared before he can.
9' - LIVERPOOL THREATEN: Gerrard dinks the free-kick into the box, where Hernandez only succeeds in diverting the ball onto the head of Henderson, but his effort goes over the bar.
14' - GOAL: Gerrard sends De Gea the wrong way with a beautiful penalty after Jones was penalised for sliding in on Sterling in the box, giving the ref has no choice but to point to the spot.
24' - COUTINHO EFFORT: What an effort by Coutinho! He jinks past Evans before blasting a low effort that De Gea does well to get down to and beat away for a corner.
33' - BIG PENALTY SHOUT: Sterling is told to get back up after what appeared to be a stonewall penalty. Awful defending by United, mostly by Evans and Smalling, and then by Herrera to upend Sterling.
Liverpool midfielder Raheem Sterling (31) is upended by Manchester United player Ander Herrera (Reuters)
50' - ANOTHER LIVERPOOL CHANCE: Sterling so close to adding another for Liverpool! Coutinho finds him with a lovely pass and he cuts inside before letting fly. Deflected just wide of the post by Smalling's heel with De Gea rooted to the spot!
55' - GOAL: It's Wayne Rooney! What a finish from the captain! He sidefoots past Mignolet on the volley from Hernandez's deep cross. So much room for error with that chance, but he got it absolutely spot on!
57' - GOAL: Mata makes it two in as many minutes! Mata lets fly from the edge of the box, it takes a bit of a deflection off Sakho and the ball flies into the back of the net!
65' - DISALLOWED GOAL: Rooney tucks the ball away into an empty net after seeing it cannon back off the bar from Young's overhit cross. The ref gives it, but after consultations with his assistants, it's chalked off. Why? Because it didn't hit the bar at all, but rather the stanchion behind the goal. Correct decision in the end.
88' - GOAL: Lingard scores a third for United! Young centres for Kagawa, who miscontrols but Lingard has no such problems, taking one touch before firing past Mignolet!
Has Rooney done enough to convince Van Gaal he is his captain? Rooney put in a decent shift playing in his favoured role and added a goal to boot, but whether he is chosen as Van Gaal's captain still very much depends on Robin van Persie. The Dutchman's regular injury concerns might yet be enough to put Van Gaal off giving him the armband, and on this form, Rooney is the obvious choice if that is the case.
Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho and Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney (Reuters)
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ashley Young (Manchester United): The winger-turned-wing-back was dangerous going forward and some of his whipped crosses caused consternation for the Liverpool back line. He knows he's in last chance saloon with Van Gaal set to slim down his squad, but of all those at risk, he seems to be doing to most to convince the new manager to keep hold of him.
Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard (8) is congratulated by team-mates after his goal against Manchester United …
Manchester United: De Gea 6; Evans 6, Smalling 6, Jones 6; Valencia n/a, Herrera 6, Fletcher 6, Young 7; Mata 7; Rooney 7, Hernandez 5. Subs: Kagawa 5, Shaw 7, Blackett 6, Cleverley 6, Nani 5, Lingard 6.
Liverpool: Mignolet 6; Kelly 6, Johnson 6, Skrtel 6, Sakho 6; Gerrard 6, Allen 6, Henderson 6, Coutinho 7; Lambert 6, Sterling 7. Subs: Lucas 6, Ibe 5, Can 5, Toure 5 , Pedersen 5.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester United
- David De Gea
- Simon Mignolet
- Steven Gerrard
- Ashley Young
- Van Gaal