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Van Persie, Rooney hit form before Sociedad clash

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (C) collides with referee Lee Probert (L) as he is challenged by Fulham's Bryan Ruiz during their English P
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (C) collides with referee Lee Probert (L) as he is challenged by Fulham's Bryan Ruiz during their English P

By Iain Rogers

MADRID (Reuters) - Manchester United's hopes of silverware this season will likely rest on the shoulders of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney and manager David Moyes believes the attacking pair are starting to move into top gear.

The Dutchman and the Englishman scored in Saturday's 3-1 victory at Fulham as the champions put a slow start to their domestic campaign behind them and gave themselves a lift before Tuesday's Champions League Group A clash at Real Sociedad.

It was the fourth time that they have netted in the same game under Moyes, who is in his first season in charge after taking over from decorated Scottish compatriot Alex Ferguson, and Van Persie now has six for the season in the Premier League, with Rooney on five.

"I thought there were real signs of great combination between them and they made the goals for each other," Moyes said at a news conference.

"There was good link-up play and I just started to see really good signs from the two of them," added the 50-year-old.

"It was great they both got on the scoresheet because that is what forwards do and I have always said you need these boys to get a hat-load of goals if you are to be successful.

"They are both incredibly talented and understand each other and the talents they both bring with them."

United captain Nemanja Vidic also praised the two forwards.

"I was really pleased with Robin and Wayne," the Serbian center back told United's television channel MUTV.

"In the first 30 minutes they played terrific football and we need them to keep doing that.

"Their movement was terrific; they got a goal each and set up the other for Antonio (Valencia). It was a good sign for us and for the team."

Victory for United at Sociedad's Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian will put them within touching distance of a place in the last 16 and end the Basque club's first foray into the Europe's elite club competition in a decade.

The Liga side's 1-0 defeat at United last month left them without a point after three of six matches and their exit will be confirmed even with a draw on Tuesday if Bayer Leverkusen beat Shakhtar Donetsk in the group's other game in Ukraine.

United are top on seven points, Bundesliga side Leverkusen have six in second and Shakhtar are third on four.

ATTACKING PROWESS

Sociedad showcased their attacking prowess with a thumping 5-0 success at home to 10-man Osasuna on Saturday that lifted them to seventh in La Liga.

Defenders Ion Ansotegi and Inigo Martinez struck with headers either side of halftime before Osasuna centre back Jordan Loties was shown a straight red card for tripping Carlos Vela when he was through on goal.

In-form forward Antoine Griezmann nodded a third in the 56th minute, Gonzalo Castro finished off a sweeping break in the 82nd and substitute Haris Seferovic helped himself to a goal two minutes from time.

"It was the kind of match that every coach wants," Sociedad's inexperienced manager Jagoba Arrasate told a news conference.

"Winning, not conceding a goal, it wasn't easy but everything came off perfectly," added the 35-year-old.

United's win in London did not come without a cost and Moyes has injury concerns over midfielder Tom Cleverley and defenders Jonny Evans and Rafael, who all had to be replaced at halftime.

"Tom Cleverley had double vision, Jonny Evans's back stiffened up and Rafael went over on his ankle," Moyes said.

"I'm hoping they will be fit. Rafa is the biggest doubt. Tom should be okay in a day or two's time and Jonny, I couldn't tell how his back is.

"To go and play against any side in Spain who have qualified will be a hard test, but we will go over there and try and get a good result that will continue our good form in the group."

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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