YOKOHAMA - Wayne Rooney came to the rescue as Manchester United beat South American champions Liga de Quito 1-0 yesterday to win the Club World Cup and lift one of the few trophies to have eluded them.
The England striker pounced in the 73rd minute after being set up by Cristiano Ronaldo, with United rallying to victory after Nemanja Vidic was needlessly sent off for a deliberate elbow early in the second half.
His goal gave them an unprecedented treble this year, with the English and European champions now able to call themselves world champions, helping silence those who have criticised the long trip to Japan.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men also became the first British team to win the tournament, putting them alongside Italy's AC Milan and Brazil's Internacional and Sao Paulo.
"The collective spirit of the team won the day," said Ferguson. "With 10 men we played with great expression and tried to win the match, which is a measure of the ambition of the players we have.
"After Vidic was sent off it was important that we didn't lose the ball. It was important to keep passing and hope Ronaldo or Rooney did something special." Rooney was overjoyed at scoring the winner.
"To be crowned the best in the world is a great achievement," he said.
United got off to the worst possible start in the second half when Vidic was given a straight red card on 49 minutes for elbowing Claudio Bieler.
The Serb gets an automatic one-match UEFA ban which means he will miss United's last 16 Champions League first leg tie against Inter Milan in February.
Despite being down to 10 men United knuckled down.
With the game looking like it could go to extra time, Michael Carrick slipped the ball to Ronaldo who deftly laid it off to Rooney and the 23-year-old made no mistake, side-footing into the right hand corner.
Liga coach Edgardo Bauza admitted United deserved to win but praised his team.
"Manchester United is a fantastic team. We had a very good second half, we gave everything and we are very satisfied," he said.
In the third-place playoff, Japan's Gamba Osaka beat Pachuca of Mexico 1-0. - Sapa-AFP