Club Brugge 0-4 Manchester United: Wayne Rooney ends his goal drought with hat-trick
Aggregate score 1-7
Manchester United have qualified for the Champions League group stage after a 4-0 (7-1 aggregate) win over Club Brugge.
Wayne Rooney ended his 878-minute goal drought with a fine hat-trick as United destroyed Club Brugge.
United spared Brugge no mercy as Louis van Gaal enjoyed the joint-biggest win of his time as United boss.
Rooney was the star of United's victory. The United captain will come up against more formidable defences than Brugge's this year, but the way the way he took all three of goals in this 4-0 win was impressive.
The 29-year-old latched on to Memphis Depay's through-ball to put United ahead in the 20th minute and he converted passes from Ander Herrera and Juan Mata to record his first hat-trick since September 2011.
Herrera completed the rout in the 63rd minute after Brugge's defence went to pieces and it would have been five had Javier Hernandez not missed a late spot-kick.
After a painful one-year hiatus, United will dine at Europe's top table this season and their fans will be confident of more Champions League glory nights after this impressive win.
With the fear of dropping into the Europa League running through their veins, United started nervously.
Herrera, making his first start of the season, looked the most tense player on the pitch.
The Spaniard gave the ball away frequently and entered the book for a foul on Victor Vazquez.
Only a last-ditch block from Luke Shaw stopped Tom De Sutter from giving Brugge an early lead.
Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo burst through a static defence, but backheeled to no one despite having a chance to shoot on goal.
Brugge paid for their profligacy when Rooney broke the deadlock in the 20th minute.
Just as they did in the first leg, the Brugge defence allowed Depay to cut in from the right flank. He strode past three players and slipped the ball through to Rooney, who nudged the ball past Brugge goalkeeper Sinan Bolat.
Brugge cranked up the pressure before the break. Sergio Romero saved awkwardly from De Sutter and flapped at another shot before redeeming himself on the stroke of half-time by diving at Abdoulay Diaby's feet to pinch the ball off the dallying striker.
After the break it was plain sailing for United. Van Gaal brought off Adnan Januzaj and pushed Herrera into the number 10 position.
Within four minutes of the restart, the former Athletic Bilbao man had supplied Rooney with his second.
Herrera drifted out to the right flank to pick up Depay's pass before squaring to Rooney who tapped in the easiest of finishes.
The skipper rounded off his hat-trick in the 57th minute. This time it was Mata who supplied a low pass from the right which Rooney converted.
Rooney could have scored his fourth moments later when he broke through the Brugge defence, but chipped the ball wide.
Herrera did not pass on the chance to add to the scoresheet just before the hour, though. The midfielder raced on to Bastian Schweinsteiger's through-ball and stroked the ball past Bolat to seal United's place in Thursday's group stage draw.
United could have added a fifth when Rooney's cross struck Duarte's hand and the referee pointed to the spot. The skipper selflessly handed the ball to Hernandez, but he slipped and put the spot-kick wide.
Manchester United made it through to the group stages of the Champions League on Wednesday, returning after a season's absence.
A 7-1 aggregate victory over Club Brugge also gives United a route back to some of the biggest money in European football.
- Should they make it all the way to the final and lift the trophy in Milan next May, they could secure over £40million in prize money alone.
- United receive £9.92million just for beating the Belgian side and qualifying for the group phase.
- Up to £6.4million could be won, depending on performances, in the group stage and qualifying for the last 16 brings an additional prize of £3.9million.
- Another £4.3million follows for quarter-final qualification and, should United reach the last four, they will gain another £5million.
- The winners of the showpiece final in Milan will bag a £10.7million prize.
- An additional chunk of the £343million of television income would also go to the club, depending on their performances and those of their English peers in the competition.
How the Red Devils have fared in the Champions League
Manchester United have qualified for the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League group stages and Louis van Gaal's men will now look ahead to competing against Europe's elite once more, after a 2014-15 season without any continental trips.
The three-time European champions won 3-1 at Old Trafford against Club Brugge in the play-off first leg and finished the job off on Wednesday with a 4-0 win in Belgium.
Van Gaal will look to make it a fourth Champions League trophy for the Red Devils, and here Press Association Sport looks at United's highs and lows in the competition.
Did not qualify
It was the second season of the revamped Champions League and United's foray ended in the second qualifying round, losing to Galatasaray on away goals.
There was progress from the previous season but United fans still watched their team exit in the group stages, finishing third behind Swedish side IFK Goteborg and Barcelona.
Did not qualify
United finished second in the group and went on to beat Porto 4-0 on aggregate in the quarter-final, but the semi-final was a step too far, losing to eventual winners Borussia Dortmund.
In the year that Real Madrid won their seventh European crown, United did not make the last four, beaten by Monaco on away goals in the quarter-finals after they had topped their Group B table ahead of eventual runners-up Juventus.
The Class of 92 reached finishing school in the treble year, as the likes of Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs ensured a final berth after seeing off Juventus in dramatic fashion. The biggest drama was left for the Camp Nou, though, as Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer helped beat Bayern Munich 2-1 from a goal down.
In attempting to defend the title, United were knocked out in the last eight after getting through an easy group stage, as once again an eventual winner, Real Madrid, came up trumps.
As like the previous season, the team reached the quarter-finals - having negotiated two simple group stages - but champions Bayern Munich finally exacted revenge for the 1999 heartache as the Red Devils lost both legs.
United sailed through both group stages again, then saw off Deportivo La Coruna in the last eight, but had a tough opponent in Bayer Leverkusen to get past next. Although they drew in both legs, it was the Germans who progressed on away goals.
United only lost two games in the whole of the two group stages, but were knocked out by Real Madrid in the quarter-finals, which included a second leg best remembered for hat-trick hero Ronaldo getting a standing ovation at Old Trafford.
Jose Mourinho ran down the Old Trafford touchline to celebrate knocking United out at the last-16 stage with FC Porto.
United had to play a qualifying round - winning against Dinamo Bucuresti - and a passage to the round of 16 was sealed as well, before AC Milan ended their hopes.
Although United had eased through the qualifying round, they only won one of their games in the group stage - drawing three and losing two. They finished bottom of a table containing Villarreal, Benfica and Lille, while it was the first time in 11 years that United had failed to get past the group stages.
United bounced back by taking top spot in the group stages, and then pulled off an incredible 7-1 win at Old Trafford in the quarter-final second leg over Roma - AC Milan ended the run in the semi-finals, though.
It was 50 years after the Munich air disaster, 40 years after their Wembley triumph under Sir Matt Busby, and nearly a decade after the treble, but United at last clinched a third European Cup. After beating no less than Barcelona in the semi-finals, United faced Chelsea in the first all-English Champions League final, as Edwin van der Sar proved the hero on penalties in Moscow.
Having gone unbeaten in the group stages before knocking out Inter Milan, Porto and Arsenal, United reached the final. However, a Messi-led Barcelona were just too good for the Old Trafford outfit.
Topping the group stages and losing just the one game, United incredibly saw off AC Milan 7-2 on aggregate but were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Bayern Munich, away goals sealing the deal in a 4-4 aggregate scoreline.
United made it all the way to a Wembley final, accounting for Marseille, Chelsea and Schalke in the knock-out stages. Barcelona again stood in their way, clinching a fourth European crown with a 3-1 win.
They did not make it through the group stage, finishing in third behind Benfica and Basle.
Sir Alex Ferguson may have eyed a third European Cup triumph in his final season in charge, and they began strongly by topping the group, but the drama of a last-16 second leg at Old Trafford, which saw Cristiano Ronaldo score and Nani sent off, saw Real Madrid go through.
David Moyes had the unenviable task of following Ferguson in the dugout and, at least in Europe, made decent headway by leading Group A, and then making the quarter-finals. Bayern Munich brought the run to an end, winning 4-2 on aggregate.
Did not Qualify
Belfast Telegraph Digital