• Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney opened the scoring in the 20th minute to end his personal goal drought
  • Rooney doubled his side’s lead on the night by tapping home from close range after fine play by Ander Herrera
  • He completed his hat-trick after a defence-splitting ball by United team-mate Juan Mata in the 57th minute
  • Herrera, who was making his first start of the season, scored a goal of his own in the 63rd minute
  • Javier Hernandez missed a second-half penalty after slipping on the Jan Breydel Stadium turf 
  • Rooney had previously failed to score this season and netted just one away goal for his club this year
  • Louis van Gaal’s side went into the second leg with a two-goal advantage thanks to Marouane Fellaini’s late goal 
  • It’s not too late to sign up for MailOnline’s new Fantasy Football game

Ian Ladyman for the Daily Mail

From a hibernation that has lasted longer than some people would like to admit, the real Manchester United has emerged blinking in to the night.

Yes, this was a second leg of a qualifying tie all but put to bed at Old Trafford a week earlier and, yes, this was a game against the fifth best team in Belgium, a team playing without eight of its regular first team players.

That is, admittedly, the context of this result and this performance. Nevertheless those who follow this club will have recognised something of the swagger with which United put away Club Bruges here. They will have recognised the mobility of the play, the running off the ball, the passing and, of course, the clinical execution of chances.

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney points at team-mate Memphis Depay to acknowledge the Dutchman's role in his 20th-minute opener

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney points at team-mate Memphis Depay to acknowledge the Dutchman’s role in his 20th-minute opener

Rooney looks up to the sky in celebration of his first goal of the season, while team-mates Depay and Juan Mata retreat back to their half

Rooney looks up to the sky in celebration of his first goal of the season, while team-mates Depay and Juan Mata retreat back to their half

Depay and Adnan Januzaj congratulate Rooney following the Englishman's crucial goal against Belgian outfit Club Bruges 

Depay and Adnan Januzaj congratulate Rooney following the Englishman’s crucial goal against Belgian outfit Club Bruges 

Rooney elected to chip onrushing Club Bruges goalkeeper Sinan Bolat following a delightful through pass by Depay

Rooney elected to chip onrushing Club Bruges goalkeeper Sinan Bolat following a delightful through pass by Depay

MATCH FACTS 

CLUB BRUGES (4-1-3-2): Bolat 6; De Fauw 4, Castelletto 5, Duarte 5, De Bock 5; Claudemir 5; Vormer 5.5, Vazquez 5.5 (Vanaken 62mins, 6), Bolingoli Mbombo 6 (Cools 76mins, 6); De Sutter 6.5, Diaby 5.5 (Dierckx 63, 6) 

Subs not used: Bruzzese, Meunier, De Smul, Oulare

Booked: Claudemir, Vormer

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1): Romero 6; Darmian 6.5, Smalling 6.5, Blind 6.5, Shaw 7; Carrick 7, Herrera 7 (Hernandez 64, 6.5); Mata 6.5 (Young 62, 6), Januzaj 6 (Schweinsteiger 46, 7.5), Depay 7; Rooney 8

Subs not used: Johnstone, McNair, Schneiderlin, Fellaini

Goals: Rooney 20, 49, 57, Herrera 63

Booked: Herrera 

MOM: Rooney 

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)

Some will get carried away by this and the sensible, those who know their football, will not. A sterner test lies at Swansea in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday.

However, good football is good football and there was plenty of that from Louis van Gaal’s team at the Jan Breydel Stadium. Wayne Rooney, the scorer of three goals, will take many of the headlines. So too will the Spaniard Ander Herrera who overcame a dreadful start to play his part in the dismantling of the opposition that followed over the course of the night.

This, however, was a team performance that Van Gaal must use as a template. Rather timid at the start, United led through their captain in the 20th minute – his first goal since April – and proceeded to embarrass Club Bruges with some imperious football in the second half.

Rooney scored goals two and three within 12 minutes of the second half starting and could have had a fourth. Then it was Herrera’s turn and, frankly, there could have been several more.

This was a little like watching the United of old. The only question now is how long it will last.

This may not be the most exciting United team we have ever seen but they do have a certain resolution about them and that, after all, is half the battle. Van Gaal himself said in the build up to the game that his team are currently rather better without the ball than they are when in possession and although that may sound rather alarming, it is easy to understand what he means.

Already this season, his team have benefited from an improvement in their organisation and structure to win narrowly against Tottenham and Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League, even if it wasn’t enough to earn more than a point at home to Newcastle at the weekend.

Here, in the early stages at least, United were once again rather flat-footed and rigid when they had the ball. There was little natural flow to their football. Herrera, starting his first game of the season, was all over the place, for example.

During this period of relative uncertainty, however, United didn’t concede a goal and that ultimately gave them a platform to eventually take control of the opening half of the game once their own football actually improved.

Missing eight players, Club Bruges also featured a different goalkeeper from the first game and a centre forward in Tom de Sutter widely thought to be playing his last game for the club ahead of a proposed move to Trazbonspor.

Rooney taps into an empty net to score his second following a fine sidewards pass by Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera

Rooney taps into an empty net to score his second following a fine sidewards pass by Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera

Mata races to celebrate Rooney's third after the former Chelsea man claimed an assist for his captain's hat-trick goal

Mata races to celebrate Rooney’s third after the former Chelsea man claimed an assist for his captain’s hat-trick goal

However the Belgians – who slipped to fifth in their domestic league with a defeat at the weekend – did not want for adventure or ambition and they may have sneaked a goal early on had De Sutter’s volley at the far post not struck Luke Shaw when it appeared to be heading for the bottom corner in just the sixth minute.

Soon after Club Bruges left-sided forward Boli Bolingoli Mbombo threatened to bully Matteo Darmian in to an error on the edge of his own six-yard box and for a while it looked as though the home team may be about to build something.

However, United had bought themselves some time with some stout early work and once they gained a foothold in the game – once the likes of Herrera and Michael Carrick improved – they began to look like certain winners.

Shaw and Adnan Januzaj had actually suggested there may be a weakness through the centre of Bruges defence when working an early half chance and in the 20th minute United found a route to goal that way.

The way that Memphis Depay cut in from the left on his right foot was impressive and his pass inside to Rooney was accurate enough. Rooney was given enormous help by Bruges right back Davy De Fauw, however, and when the defender lunged at the ball and missed, the United captain was able to lift the ball over Sinan Bolat as he dashed from goal in vain.

Spanish midfielder Herrera, who was making his first start of the season, rounded off the scoring with 27 minutes left on the clock

Spanish midfielder Herrera, who was making his first start of the season, rounded off the scoring with 27 minutes left on the clock

Summer signing Matteo Darmian shares a word with goalscorer Rooney after his captain's first goal of an impressive hat-trick

Summer signing Matteo Darmian shares a word with goalscorer Rooney after his captain’s first goal of an impressive hat-trick

A goal up, United had effectively killed the tie. Bruges now needed three to take the contest in to added time and their desperation allowed United to exploit some gaps.

Herrera shot wildly over on the half hour while Depay should have scored when the hapless De Fauw fell over to give him a free run soon after. This time, Bolat saved.

At the other end Bruges holding player Claudemir headed over at the far post before De Fauw volleyed a corner wide and Abdoulay Diaby made a mess of his team’s best chance, allowing Sergio Romero to save at his feet when clear through.

That, however, was about as good as it got for the Belgians. Able to relax in the second half, United took Bruges apart. Depay and Herrera set Rooney up for his second in the 49th minute before a brilliant passing move between substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger, Herrera and Juan Mata presented him with his hat-trick on a plate before the hour.

Shortly after Rooney was denied by Bolat when clean through before Herrera profited from a superb Schweinsteiger pass to cap his own night moments before he was substituted.

United were even able to miss a late penalty with nine minutes left, Javier Hernandez slipping as he shot wide after Rooney’s cross had struck the arm of Oscar Duarte. 

Second-half substitute Javier Hernandez slipped over on the Jan Breydel Stadium turf as he stepped up to take a penalty

Second-half substitute Javier Hernandez slipped over on the Jan Breydel Stadium turf as he stepped up to take a penalty

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal stares at his assistant Ryan Giggs after Hernandez's spot-kick miss

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal stares at his assistant Ryan Giggs after Hernandez’s spot-kick miss

The Mexico international wasted another chance to add to his side's lead by blazing the ball over the woodwork with minutes to go

The Mexico international wasted another chance to add to his side’s lead by blazing the ball over the woodwork with minutes to go

Manchester United captain Rooney attempts to get the ball under control as he is challenged by Club Bruges' Davy De Fauw

Manchester United captain Rooney attempts to get the ball under control as he is challenged by Club Bruges’ Davy De Fauw

Manchester United midfielder Herrera receives a yellow card from fellow countryman Antonio Mateu Lahoz after just 13 minutes

Manchester United midfielder Herrera receives a yellow card from fellow countryman Antonio Mateu Lahoz after just 13 minutes

Club Bruges forward Abdoulay Diaby lays on the floor after squandering a golden opportunity to cancel out Rooney's opener

Club Bruges forward Abdoulay Diaby lays on the floor after squandering a golden opportunity to cancel out Rooney’s opener

Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero dives to the floor as he stops Diaby from getting his side back into the game

Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero dives to the floor as he stops Diaby from getting his side back into the game

Manchester United playmaker Depay shows his disappointment after failing to double his side's lead before the half-time interval

Manchester United playmaker Depay shows his disappointment after failing to double his side’s lead before the half-time interval

England international Luke Shaw attempts to start an attack during the first half of Manchester United's second-leg clash in Belgium 

England international Luke Shaw attempts to start an attack during the first half of Manchester United’s second-leg clash in Belgium 

Club Bruges midfielder Claudemir pulls Herrera's shirt as the former Athletic Bilbao runs forward with the ball  

Club Bruges midfielder Claudemir pulls Herrera’s shirt as the former Athletic Bilbao runs forward with the ball  

The Jan Breydel Stadium scoreboard displays the minute of Rooney's goal in the Champions League play-off encounter

The Jan Breydel Stadium scoreboard displays the minute of Rooney’s goal in the Champions League play-off encounter

Manchester United manager Van Gaal decided to make two changes to the side which failed to score against Newcastle with  Herrera and Michael Carrick coming in for Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger

Manchester United manager Van Gaal decided to make two changes to the side which failed to score against Newcastle with Herrera and Michael Carrick coming in for Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger

Rooney leads the likes of Carrick and Daley Blind out of the tunnel ahead of what proved to be a comfortable 4-0 win for United 

Rooney leads the likes of Carrick and Daley Blind out of the tunnel ahead of what proved to be a comfortable 4-0 win for United 

Van Gaal is all smiles as he is photographed along with his assistants Albert Stuivenberg and Giggs before the European match

Van Gaal is all smiles as he is photographed along with his assistants Albert Stuivenberg and Giggs before the European match

Red Devils chief executive Ed Woodward attended the match in Bruges along with Manchester United co-chairman Avram Glazer

Red Devils chief executive Ed Woodward attended the match in Bruges along with Manchester United co-chairman Avram Glazer

Former Holland national team boss Van Gaal congratulates his captain and hat-trick hero Rooney after the final whistle in Belgium 

Former Holland national team boss Van Gaal congratulates his captain and hat-trick hero Rooney after the final whistle in Belgium 

Ex-Bayern Munich man Schweinsteiger applauds the travelling Manchester United supporters following his side's 4-0 victory

Ex-Bayern Munich man Schweinsteiger applauds the travelling Manchester United supporters following his side’s 4-0 victory

 

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