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Football

Rooney's debut sets new standards


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The hat-trick was Rooney's first in senior football

MANCHESTER, England -- Wayne Rooney's stunning hat-trick for Manchester United against Fenerbahce in the Champions League is already being hailed as the greatest debut in football history.

"I don't suppose I've ever seen a debut like that," said manager Alex Feguson. "Everbody can see what a talent the boy has."

Fenerbahce manager Christopeh Daum was even more fulsome in his praise. "Rooney is still very young and maybe he will become the player of the century," he predicted.

The young England striker took 17 minutes to open his account with United's second goal, added another 11 minutes later and swept home a majestic 54th minute free kick to complete his treble.

He even had a hand in David Bellion's goal to complete a 6-2 rout in the Group D win, heading on for the Frenchman to score with a low shot.

It was Rooney's first hat-trick in senior football in his first game since being injured in the Euro 2004 finals in Portugal.

The 18-year-old was so full of confidence in his return that he stayed on for the full 90 minutes.

"I thought he was magnificent," Ferguson said, but did add a cautionary note. "We want to mature him and get him over the adolescent stage because he's such a young boy."

Rooney, who was signed from English Premiership rivals Everton for 27 million pounds ($48.9m) last month, made his presence felt from the first minute, releasing Bellion on the right with an inch-perfect pass but the Frenchman's cross was cut out.

Welsh international Giggs put United in front in the seventh minute, leaping unopposed to head past keeper Rustu after a strong run and cross from Kleberson.

Rooney doubled the lead in the 17th minute, running from deep to latch on to a great through ball from van Nistelrooy before blasting the ball home with his left foot from the edge of the box.

Rooney fired in the third in the 28th minute, making space for himself on his right side before unleashing a powerful shot past the diving Rustu, this time using his right foot.

The England forward missed a great chance for his hat-trick in first half stoppage time, scooping over a Neville cross.

But the three-goal haul was completed seven minutes after the break, when Rooney curled a direct free-kick over the Fenerbahce wall into the top left-hand corner.

Fenerbahce had started the second half by pulling a goal back in the 46th minute when Nobre fired a shot into the net after a goalmouth scramble.

Drilling home

Tuncay scored Fenerbahce's second after 59 minutes, drilling home a long-range effort after the visitors' had a chance cleared off the line.

Van Nistelrooy controlled the ball smartly before scoring United's fifth in the 78th minute - his 31st Champions League goal - before Bellion rounded off the scoring as United went top of the group.

Sylvain Wiltord scored his first goal for Olympique Lyon since returning home from Arsenal as the French champions beat Sparta Prague 2-1 Tuesday to join United on four points.

Michael Essien answered an early goal by Tomas Jun, and the two teams went into halftime at 1-1. But Wiltord showed his class in the 58th minute, taking a pass from at the edge of the area, running around goalkeeper Jaromir Blazek and coolly slotting into the empty net


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