Manchester - Sir Alex Ferguson appeared to be scrutinising his mobile phone at the moment Old Trafford rose to acclaim Wayne Rooney as he came off with four minutes of the game remaining on Tuesday night.
The former Manchester United manager was never one for sentimentality anyway, but Rooney's relationship with the United fans is a good deal less complex than the one with his old boss.
Many of those in Old Trafford will have seen Rooney's first three goals for United nine years ago this month when he scored a hat-trick on his debut against Fenerbahce.
On Tuesday night they witnessed Rooney's goals No 199 and 200 that place him 49 behind the all-time club record held by Sir Bobby Charlton. The same record that was held up by David Moyes as something Rooney should stay around to surpass during that summer of tension as Chelsea bid for him.
Rooney now stands alongside Charlton, Denis Law and Jack Rowley as the only four men in United's history to reach 200 goals for the club. It was not a landmark one envisaged him reaching when Ferguson landed one more blow on him in the aftermath of the former manager's final game in charge at Old Trafford in May and it is fair to say that the storm that blew up that day has still not dissipated.
Yet as United won the first Champions League game of the Moyes era, it was Rooney who was the main man, even with a superb second goal from Robin van Persie. The Germans had got themselves level against the run of play but once United took the lead again it was never in doubt. Somehow Leverkusen scored a second with two minutes to play and Van Persie conspired to miss an open goal from a yard out just moments later.
There was a start for Shinji Kagawa, his first of the season, a reprieve for the player whom Moyes has chosen to ignore thus far. The official formation was given as an old-fashioned 4-4-2 line-up with Kagawa alongside Michael Carrick in the centre of midfield but, as the game developed, it was Marouane Fellaini who occupied that place in the system with the Japan international playing wide.
It was a side that had been selected to attack the German visitors, with Antonio Valencia on the right and the Rooney and Van Persie combination in attack. Whatever the interpretation placed on Moyes' remarks about Rooney in pre-season, this was evidence that he does not feel he has to choose between his two famous strikers when there are games that need to be won, and the initiative seized, at Old Trafford.
Sami Hyypia's Bayer Leverkusen side are third in the Bundesliga after five games, the same position that they finished in last season. They have lost André Schürrle to Chelsea since May and in the opening stages on Tuesday night they looked like they were caught between hanging on for a draw, before they went behind, and seeing if they could test United's vulnerabilities. In the end they did neither.
United dominated the first half and broke through at almost exactly the mid-point. They did not create as many chances as their possession should have yielded. Their sharpest player was Rooney and he improvised well to score from Patrice Evra's cross from the left, hitting the ball on the volley down into the ground and past Bernd Leno in the Leverkusen goal.
The chance had, in part, been created by Van Persie's work out on the left to keep the ball. The Dutch striker had a strange first half. He shot wide from Fellaini's through ball on 10 minutes, the most promising sight of goal he got before the break. He was also booked and on that occasion got himself in a confrontation with the Slovenian referee Damir Skomina that seemed to get a touch out of hand. With neither prepared to back down they were nose-to-nose at one point.
Before then, Kagawa had cut the ball back to Van Persie from the left but he hesitated. United went close again two minutes before half-time when Van Persie won a free-kick in the left channel. Rooney struck it sweetly, bringing it down just wide of Leno's right post.
Really, it should have been dead as a game with seven minutes of the second half played. The Leverkusen defender Omer Toprak turned back towards his own goal when he should have been comfortable, fell over and let Rooney in on goal. He went around Leno easily enough and, wide to the left, should have had no problem wrapping his left foot around the ball and tucking it into an empty goal. At that point Rooney might have changed his mind and considered squaring the ball to Van Persie, who was unmarked in the area. In the event he did neither, his ball across the goal was too far ahead of Van Persie for him to be able to react and wide of the far post. It was a bad one to miss and United were made to pay within two minutes.
Leverkusen scarcely deserved the equaliser yet their captain, Simon Rolfes, took it beautifully. It was created by some good work from Son Heung-min, the South Korea international, who hung on to possession long enough to play it back out to Rolfes. He shaped his shot well, bending it in from a point outside David de Gea's right post.
It was unfortunate for United and for Moyes, with Ferguson looking down on him from the stand opposite the one that bears his name. Moyes was rescued by the kind of quality that a manager of a club of United's size can come to rely on. Antonio Valencia's excellent run ended in a cross from the right that was fractionally behind Van Persie but was sweetly volleyed past Leno nonetheless.
Hyypia sent on Lars Bender, not deemed fit enough to start. Unfortunately for the Leverkusen manager, his defence let him down again. This time it was Emir Spahic who misjudged a header, allowing Rooney to run on goal and tuck it inside Leno's near post.
Valencia scored an excellent fourth from the right, after the substitute Ashley Young, and then Rooney, had worked the ball over from the left. Toprak forced in a second for Bayer as United's defence failed to clear in the closing stages. Before then, Rooney had come off to devoted applause.
With an open goal, Van Persie somehow managed to direct the ball wide from Valenicia's cross late on, proving that even the truly talented are not immune to those calamitous moments. This, however, was Rooney's night, and everyone, Ferguson included, will have known that.
Substitutions: Manchester United Young (Kagawa, 71), Cleverley (Fellaini, 81), Hernandez (Rooney, 84). Bayer Leverkusen Bender (Son, 64), Derdiyok (Kiessling, 78), Kruse (Sam, 78).
Bookings: Manchester United Van Persie. Bayer Leverkusen Son, Reinzrtz.
Man of the match Rooney. Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Man United 57%. B Leverkusen 43%.
Attempts on target: Man United 5. B Leverkusen 5.
Referee D Skomina (Slvn). Attendance 74,000.
Group A details
P W D L F A Pts
Man United 1 1 0 0 4 2 3
Shakhtar D 1 1 0 0 2 0 3
B Leverkusen 1 0 0 1 2 4 0
R Sociedad 1 0 0 1 0 2 0
Results so far
Manchester United 4-2 Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad 0-2 Shakhtar Donetsk.
2 Oct S Donetsk v Man United, B Leverkusen v R Sociedad. 23 Oct B Leverkusen v S Donetsk, Man United v R Sociedad. 5 Nov R Sociedad v Man United, S Donetsk v B Leverkusen. 27 Nov B Leverkusen v Man United, S Donetsk v R Sociedad. 10 Dec Man United v S Donetsk, R Sociedad v B Leverkusen.