Rooney the hat-trick hitman In Bruges as Man Utd reach CL proper

Manchester United took advantage of their 3-1 first leg lead against Club Brugge in their Champions League play-off, as they progressed to the group stage after a year’s absence from the competition by emphatically beating the Belgian outfit 7-1 on aggregate.

Louis van Gaal kept faith in the majority of his starting line-up from the weekend Premier League home 0-0 draw with Newcastle United, but new centre midfield duo Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin made way for Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick in the XI.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Qualifying - Play-off - Club Brugge v Manchester United - Jan Breydel Stadion

That small adjustment clearly worked, as the visitors smashed their hosts 4-0 on the night, with skipper Wayne Rooney finally ending a 10-goal drought to hit a hat-trick.

The match started brightly, but there were no real efforts from either side, although the likes of Tom De Sutter, playing in his last game for Brugge before signing for Bursaspor, and Rooney had half-chances.

But, after 20 minutes, the first shot on target came and with it Wayne Rooney’s first strike of the season. Memphis Depay, the double goal hero and provider of Marouane Fellani’s late header in the first leg, brilliantly slotted his captain in, with Rooney then cooly chipping over keeper Sinan Bolat to make it 1-0 and 4-1 on aggregate.

Belgium Soccer Champions League

Man Utd continued their positive approach, and flying Dutch winger Memphis nearly doubled the visitors’ lead on the night as he somehow managed to get past the defender to go through on goal. He had Rooney to his right but arguably took the right decision to shoot, however his effort was eventually blocked.

Man Utd and Memphis kept attacking, though, and the Netherlands international nearly got lucky with a deflection, but the keeper managed to hold onto it.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Qualifying - Play-off - Club Brugge v Manchester United - Jan Breydel Stadion

But just before the break, it was Brugge that had four decent chances; firstly from De Sutter, who hit a clean shot on goal, although straight at Sergio Romero. Next, Daley Blind nearly headed into his own net, before the hosts nearly slotted in from the resulting corner.

Finally, United stopper Romero did incredibly well to prevent Mali international Abdoulay Diaby from being the first opposing player to score past him since signing for the club this summer. He closed the gap so well when the striker was one-on-one, and eventually jumped at his feet to grab at the ball and eventually clear.

With United firmly in charge of the tie, Van Gaal made one substitution at half time, as Schweinsteiger came on for Adnan Januzaj.

Not long after the break, Rooney was at the double as he rounded off a wonderful move involving Luke Shaw, Memphis and Herrera to put his side two up on the night.

But the Red Devils didn’t seem to think that their 5-1 aggregate scoreline was enough as they kept on attacking, his time Herrera with the effort but his shot was straight at the keeper.

After the the 56th minute, this time another Spaniard was the creator, as Juan Mata passed for Rooney to hit his hat-trick. The England international finished well from a close angle and through the legs on the keeper.

Rooney nearly made it four not long after, but this time his chip as just wide of the goal.

Just after the hour mark, Schweinsteiger made his first meaningful move in a United shirt as he found out Herrera with a brilliant ball, before the Basque man slotted into the corner of the net to make it 4-0. It was, however, his last touch of the match, as Van Gaal brought him off for Javier Hernandez to get in on the action.

But it was a host replacement, Hans Vanaken, that provided the next impact on the game as he could have got arguably the goal of the night with a volley that hit the bar. Unfortunately for him, it bounced out rather than in.

With less than 10 minutes to go, Man Utd were awarded a penalty due to a hand-ball in the box. Rooney unselfishly allowed Hernandez to take it, but the Mexican comically slipped and shot wide, to prompt Van Gaal and his assistant Ryan Giggs looking at each other in bemusement.

Chicharito will perhaps be the one Red Devil to end this game disappointed, as on the stoke of 90 minutes played he somehow skied over from inside the six-yard box after a brilliant ball from sub Ashley Young.

It didn’t matter for the hosts, though, as they went away from Brugge to win 4-0 and 7-1 on aggregate to qualify for the Champions League group stage after a year’s absence. They await the Thursday evening draw to determine which pool they will be placed in after being named as second seeds.

We leave you with this…