It took 36 minutes for the sleeping beast known as Manchester United to wake up, but once they did, they erupted for a flurry of late-first-half goals.
United downed AS Roma 3-2 in the first match for both sides in the International Champions Cup at Sports Authority Field in Denver on Saturday.
After Roma took hold of the possession battle for most of the half, Wayne Rooney popped up from 22 yards out to strike the first goal of the game and his third of his side's pre-season tour.
Stunning goal from Wayne Rooney as Manchester United go in front against Roma. https://t.co/wRxxD8oOJb— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) July 26, 2014
Rooney's strike from distance gave Roma keeper Lukasz Skorupski no chance of making a save, and after that goal, the floodgates opened up for the Red Devils.
Three minutes later, Rooney showed vision from midfield resembling Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning as he dropped a terrific pass in the box for Juan Mata.
Mata rewarded the English forward by slotting the second goal past Skorupski, but that didn't end the late-first-half scoring onslaught by the team in white.
Juan Mata's goal. Wayne Rooney's assist. Very special. Manchester United 2-0 Roma. https://t.co/VY7Dl4JmIR— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) July 26, 2014
Just as the first of two minutes of stoppage time began, Danny Welbeck was taken down in the box by Urby Emanuelson, which handed Rooney a chance to record a brace for the second consecutive game.
Rooney sent his shot from the spot into the left corner of the net to score his second penalty of United's tour through the United States.
Roma did hand the Red Devils a scare early in the half, when Mattia Destro's chip bounced right over the crossbar after his shot landed in front of the goalmouth. Destro tried to sneak past the United back three on a few occasions after that missed chance but was ruled offside on a few occasions.
It took 76 minutes for Roma to finally get a shot on goal, but when the Italian side did strike, they did it in fantastic fashion. Miralem Pjanic struck a ball from 60 yards out that landed in the goal over an out-of-position Ben Amos.
Miralem Pjanic. From behind the halfway line. Goal. https://t.co/dV2v3vL0t2— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) July 26, 2014
The Italian side almost earned themselves a goal in the 84th minute, but the hand of Amos and the post denied them. Leandro Castan's acrobatic effort in the box looked to be going in, but Amos got a small touch to the ball to push the it onto the left post.
Roma did grab a second goal in the 89th minute, as Francesco Totti struck from the spot after Michael Keane was whistled for a handball.
89: The captain converts from the spot to pull another one back for the Giallorossi. 2-3. Forza ROMA! pic.twitter.com/efKJ9P1ew1— AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) July 26, 2014
The win handed United three points in the competition, which will see both sides play two more games over the next week at various sites across the United States.
Key Player Grades
Wayne Rooney, F, Manchester United: A
Just like he did late in the first half against the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, Rooney netted two goals before exiting at the half.
Adding to his two goals in the final nine minutes of the first half was a superb assist delivered in to Juan Mata on United's second goal.
Mattia Destro, F, Roma: B-
Destro was very lively up front in the early stages of the match for Roma, but his impact dwindled as United gained dominance on the scoreboard.
Other than his second-minute chip over the head of Sam Johnstone, he did not cause too much of a challenge.
Juan Mata, M, Manchester United: B
Mata was the beneficiary of Rooney's terrific assist on his 39th-minute goal, but he also played the role of provider for the Red Devils forward. The Spanish midfielder fed Rooney with the pass that allowed him to strike United's first goal.
As Roma coach Rudi García post-match "result probably not fair, but United deserved the win". pic.twitter.com/j1xS7D88TU— Alan Baca (@TheAlanB15) July 26, 2014
Roma manager Rudi Garcia said after the match that the result was not fair but that United did deserve the victory.
United boss Louis van Gaal said he was pleased with the goals scored by the team but that their performance was not good enough:
Louis van Gaal pleased with "remarkable, fantastic" goals but bemoans United's lack of possession in the second half. #mutour— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 26, 2014
Louis van Gaal asked for his assessment. Says 'we did not play a good match'.— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) July 26, 2014
The Dutchman was also not pleased by the penalty call late in the match:
The manager is bemused by the penalty awarded to Roma: "You cannot give a penalty when a shot hits your arm or hand from 2m away." #mutour— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 26, 2014
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.