The reds went into the game under scrutiny from the fans and media after three consecutive 0-0 draws and this was never going to be an easy fixture. And it proved that way as United went in at the half frustrated as it remained goalless. United controlled the first half and played with more creativity and intent than the previous couple of games, but chances were still hard to come by, the best chance falling to Marcos Rojo who smashed a close range volley into the side netting.
The second half was much of the same, United controlling and probing a sturdy CSKA defense but failing to create the vital opportunity. And it looked like it wasn't going to be United's day after a lovely United build up freed Juan Mata in the box, who squared the ball to Rooney, who's initial shot was blocked only for the rebound to fall back at his feet. With the goal gaping, he couldn't adjust his feet to put it into the open goal. It was clear that Moscow's game plan was to defend with 11 men behind the ball, but it was them who nearly snatched victory with 12 minutes to go. A cutting pass from Ahmed Musa freed the speedy substitute Seydou Doumbia who was denied brilliantly, first from David De Gea and then from the desperate slide on the line by Chris Smalling. And it was only a minute after United nearly fell behind, that they struck the critical blow to break CSKA's resistance. Michael Carrick floated a delightful pass to the side of the area to meet the impressive Jesse Lingard's run. With a cushioned volley he directed the ball into the path of Rooney who powerfully headed past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev with only 10 minutes to go.
It was a vital victory for United and puts them in a great position to qualify, with victory against PSV in 3 weeks time all but sealing passage to the last 16. The reds welcome West Brom to Old Trafford on Saturday before the international break.