Wayne Rooney: Curtis Davies helped us deal with the threat of Millwall striker Matt Smith

Wayne Rooney felt his Derby side handled the threat of Millwall striker Matt Smith as he got his first win as interim boss.

Jason Knight scored the only goal at The Den.

And Davies won 15 aerial duels – the most of any player on the pitch. Smith, by contrast, managed to win seven duels and directed a Jed Wallace cross straight at keeper David Marshall in the second period.

Rooney said: “That’s the exact reason he [Davies] was in the team. He gives us something different – a lot of experience and he puts his head in where it hurts. Curtis was great.

“I knew it would be a battle and a fight with Matt Smith.

“The game went the way we thought it would. The first 15, 20 minutes of each half we knew would be a battle, that we’d have to challenge. Matt Smith is a handful. That’s the reason Graham Shinnie and Jason Knight were alongside Krystian Bielik, we knew there would be a lot of second balls. We had to be there and challenge, to try and win them.

“But after the first 15-20 minutes of each half we felt we could get control of the game, try and get more bodies forward and try to get the goal.

“I knew it would be a very difficult game, going to Millwall.

“I’m delighted with the clean sheet. It’s been long overdue. They deserve those three points for the effort they put in.

“It gives us something to build on in the next few games.”

Jed Wallace had a chance in the first period as his desire to win a bouncing ball put him in on goal but Derby keeper David Marshall got his right hand to his effort.

“It was a huge save,” said Rooney. “I know we’ve conceded a lot of goals, so this sounds strange, but Marshy has made some fantastic saves for us. He kept the score at 0-0.”

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