England skipper Wayne Rooney returned to form with a bang by scoring a hat-trick in Belgium as Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United marched into the group stages of the Champions League.
Leading 3-1 from the first leg against Club Brugge; Manchester United won 4-0 away from home to round off their play-off tie 7-1 on aggregate.
Following the weekend’s disappointing 0-0 Premier League draw with Newcastle, Rooney had come under fire for his lack of goals this season.
England v Switzerland
Euro 2016 Qualifier
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
Tuesday 8 August 2015
But the striker answered all of his critics in emphatic fashion, opening the scoring on 20 minutes, before adding two after the break on 49 and 57 minutes to show he is bang in form ahead of next month’s international fixtures against San Marino and Switzerland.
Midfielder Ander Herrera added a fourth goal just after the hour mark to add gloss to a hugely impressive Manchester United showing in Europe. Striker Javier Hernandez could have made the scoreline even better for Manchester United but he missed an 80th-minute penalty.
England internationals Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling and Michael Carrick also all featured for Manchester United.
Rooney told BT Sport: “I’m delighted to get the goals but more importantly it was a massive game for the club tonight.
“To get to the group stages after missing out last year was very important.
“I thought we were great across the two legs and it was a fantastic result for us tonight. We’re delighted we’re through.
“If I didn’t have a strong character perhaps recent criticism would have affected me but I know my quality and what I can give to the team. Even if the goals don’t go in, I know I bring a lot to my team. Thankfully I got chances tonight and I took them all.
“If it was going on for three, four or even five games more maybe it would be very different but it’s early days and I knew when I got chances I would take them.
“As a striker you want to score and everybody goes back to last season and makes a big thing of it but there are a lot of top quality strikers who are yet to get off the mark. I know though because of who I am more gets made of it – that’s part of my job.”
Meanwhile, England internationals Phil Jagielka and John Stones both started for Everton in their Capital One Cup second round tie at Barnsley, while midfielder Ross Barkley came off the substitute’s bench.
After going two goals down against Barnsley inside the first 30 minutes – Sam Winnall and Marley Watkins scoring for the Championship club – Everton battled back to win the tie 4-3 in extra time.
Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith levelled for Everton before the hour mark, Daniel Crowley made it 3-2 to Barnsley less then a minute later, before Romelu Lukaku took the game into extra time with an equaliser on 77 minutes.
An own goal by Barnsley’s Marc Roberts in the 96th minute gave Everton the lead for the first time as the Premier League club dug themselves out of trouble and Lukaku sealed the win late to make it 5-3.