‘Rooney’s display shows Manchester derby as big as Liverpool rivalry’

Pablo Zabaleta says Wayne Rooney's display on Sunday proves the Manchester derby is as big as Red Devils' rivalry with Liverpool

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney scored 12 Premier League goals last season Photo: Nike

Pablo Zabaleta believes Wayne Rooney’s performance on Sunday proves the Manchester derby is as big as defending champions’ clashes with Liverpool.

The 27-year-old scored a late free-kick in a 4-1 loss at Etihad Stadium after declaring pre-match that Manchester United’s rivalry with Liverpool was the biggest in English football.

However, Manchester City defender Zabaleta reckons Rooney’s hard-working performances gave an insight into the significance of the derby to the Red Devils.

“I saw Rooney,” Zabaleta is quoted as saying by Daily Mail.

“He was one of Manchester United’s main players and tried more than anyone else in their team.

“He said Liverpool is still the big game but when I saw him working so hard it probably proves this game is just as important to him and United as Liverpool.”

Zabaleta also admitted City did turn their thoughts to another landslide victory at 3-0 up – the Citizens were 6-1 winners at Old Trafford in October 2011.

“When we scored the third goal, everybody thought that it could be another chance to do it,” continued Zabaleta.

“Just for a moment even I thought about the 6-1 game.

“But after we scored the fourth goal we lost a bit of intensity.”

The Spanish defender also praised his team-mates for their defensive performance as City prevented last season’s top scorers from netting more than one goal.

“When the game is like that, and you see the team playing like that against a team like Manchester United, you know it is special,” added Zabaleta.

“The fans understand everything is great.

“We were fantastic and very solid at the back. We created lots of chances and they had only one or two shots on.

“That is hard to do against a team like United.”

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