• Pre-season

Van Gaal hails 'unbelievable' Rooney

ESPN staff
July 27, 2014
Van Gaal: Heat, altitude affected us

Louis van Gaal has hailed "unbelievable" Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United striker scored two goals and made another for Juan Mata in their 3-2 win against Roma.

After speaking on Friday about his philosophy of training his players "not in the legs, but in the brain," Van Gaal pointed to Rooney's 40-yard ball to set up Mata's lobbed finish, which put United 2-0 ahead in their second pre-season tour game in Denver.

"The pass of Rooney to Mata - it was unbelievable, that pass," Van Gaal said. "He did it with his brain and Mata was running with his brain at the right moment."

Wayne Rooney scored two goals in Manchester United's 3-2 friendly win over Roma © AP

Rooney was at the heart of a first-half performance that saw United overcome some shaky defensive moments to race into a 3-0 lead by the break. The striker opened the scoring with a magnificent curling strike from 30 yards and, following Mata's goal, converted a penalty after Danny Welbeck was fouled by Urby Emanuelson.

However, despite overseeing his second win in as many games as United manager, Van Gaal was disappointed to see his side ship two goals after the interval, which left them hanging on for the win in the closing minutes.

"In the second half, we have got to keep the ball in possession because when you are 3-0 ahead, the only thing you have to do is to keep the ball in possession," said Van Gaal. "The opponent has to run and run and run and the gaps shall come."

That last season's Serie A runners-up were able to close the gap was also due to the conditions in which both sides were made to play - the game was stopped in both halves for a water break.

Having complained before the game about the local kick-off time of 2pm, Van Gaal was quick to bring up the argument again.

"I think we didn't play a good match because of the height of the stadium, the air, because all my good passers failed today," Van Gaal said.

"I think the system works and the players adapt but, because of [the conditions], maybe these are excuses. But I don't believe when you see Mata play or [Ander] Herrera, that these are the best passers - and also [Shinji] Kagawa - they are the best passers and everything went wrong. It is in the air, I believe."

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