In Review

Rooney fires Man Utd back to the big time, as Van Gaal shrugs

Striker ends barren run with a hat-trick to send United into Champions League, but Van Gaal uninterested in the draw

Brugge 0 Manchester United 4

Wayne Rooney ended his ten-game goal drought in emphatic fashion with a hat-trick as Manchester United made short work of Brugge in the second leg of their Champions League play-off clash.

Leading their Belgian opponents 3-1 after last week's first leg at Old Trafford, United eased through to take their place in the tournament proper.

The draw for the group stage will be made later today and whoever their opponents United will derive much comfort from the return to form of Rooney. The England captain has been criticised in recent weeks for his lack of potency in front of goal, but the 29-year-old silenced his knockers with three goals in 35 minutes.

His first, on 20 minutes, gave United the lead and he added a second four minutes after the break, tapping in Ander Herrera's pass. Rooney completed his hat-trick just before the hour mark and Herrera got in on the act a few minutes later as United humiliated their hosts in front of a silent Brugge crowd.

Javier Hernandez spared Brugge the ignominy of a fifth goal by missing a penalty but it was all too easy for the Premier League side who are back in Europe's showpiece tournament after a year's absence.

Rooney said later that he hadn't been fazed by his critics, explaining: "If I didn't have a strong character [the criticism] may have affected me but I know my quality."

That may be the case, but despite being made United's speahead at the start of the season, Rooney hadn't scored for his club for 878 minutes.

"I wasn't worried, if it was going on for three, four, five games more then maybe so but it's early days and I knew when the chances came I'd take them," he said, of his lacklustre start to the season. "I understand because of my name and because of who I am it will get publicised a lot more. That's my job and I understand that."

United could find themselves grouped alongside one of Barcelona, Bayern, Juventus or Paris Saint-Germain when the draw is made in Monaco later today, but Louis van Gaal appeared unconcerned by the prospect. "I don't know the teams who are participating, but I think I cannot have any influence on the draw," he said when asked for his analysis.

The Dutchman, whose club are in Pot Two of the draw, along with Arsenal and Manchester City, added that he won't even watch it live because "I cannot influence the draw, so it's better to hear afterwards".

Instead Van Gaal will spend the afternoon watched United's second string in action against Ajax and turning his thoughts to the weekend's clash with Swansea. "This was a glorious night for Manchester United," he explained, "but Swansea City is the most important match now."

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