Van Gaal defends Rooney red card

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has defended Wayne Rooney after the Red Devils’ captain was sent off for a lunge.

The former Everton striker was given a straight red at Old Trafford when he scythed down West Ham midfielder Stewart Downing.

Rooney had earlier opened the scoring for the Manchester club and they held on for a nervy 2-1 win despite the players’ absence.

But van Gaal was quick to stress that there was no malice in the England international’s challenge.

He said: “In professional football you make professional fouls. I saw that today five or six times and Wayne has done that.

“As a coach I can see that, but I think he did it too strongly, and that is maybe his biggest mistake.

“I have seen this professional foul without a yellow or red card, so this is a little bit strange.

“He said to me he wanted to do that (slow down the West Ham attack). But it’s a great miss because he played very well.

“I was very pleased with him and he scored a goal.”