Wayne Rooney treble seals Champions League return
Wayne Rooney ended a 10-game scoring drought in style with a hat-trick as Manchester United overpowered Club Brugge 4-0 to qualify for the Champions League group phase.
Rooney had symbolised his side’s recent goal-scoring problems, which have seen them score only twice in three Premier League games, but he produced three assured finishes and Ander Herrera added another to return United to the tournament after a first season of absence in 19 years.
Louis van Gaal’s side won the play-off 7-1 on aggregate on Wednesday, following last week’s 3-1 victory in Manchester, and will discover the identities of their three group-stage opponents in Thursday’s draw in Monaco.
“I am very happy because it was our aim last year to participate in the Champions League and we did it tonight,” said Van Gaal, who also saw substitute Javier Hernandez miss a late penalty. “Wayne has a very strong mentality and with his level, he always shall come back.”
It was Rooney’s first hat-trick since a treble against Bolton Wanderers in September 2011 and his first in Europe since his dazzling debut hat-trick for United against Fenerbahce as an 18-year-old in September 2004.