David Moyes admitted that Wayne Rooney found it difficult to kick the ball cleanly in Manchester United’s 3-1 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.
The Manchester United manager defended his decision to pick his joint-top scorer, who had a painkilling injection in the toe he hurt during the first leg of United’s quarterfinal against the German champions.
But Moyes accepted Rooney, who missed Saturday’s 4-0 win over Newcastle, was impeded by his injury as he struggled to make an impact in the Allianz Arena.
"I was concerned that Wayne had not trained all week and he had taken an injection. At times it looked like it was a struggle striking the ball," the Scot said in his news conference after the match.
Rooney spurned two of United’s best chances but Moyes kept him on the pitch for the full 90 minutes and, with Robin van Persie injured and Juan Mata ineligible in the Champions League, said he felt the 17-goal striker was crucial.
“He is so vital a player to us,” Moyes added. “He is so important especially with Robin van Persie out just now. He had a couple of opportunities but couldn’t quite take them.”
United, who are seven points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with five games to go, are set to miss out on Champions League football next season for the first time since 1995-96.
And defender Phil Jones said in a mixed zone: "It's hugely important we get back in it as soon as possible. Manchester United need to be in the Champions League.”
The games against Bayern were Jones’ first taste of the last eight of the Champions League and he added: “Nights like these do not come around too often. They are the ones you look back on and think: 'What a time that was.'
"You want to play against the best and you want to test yourself against the best."