MANCHESTER UNITED WIN 7-1 ON AGGREGATE
SKIPPER Wayne Rooney admitted that his status in the game makes harsher scrutiny inevitable should he suffer a goal drought after catapulting his side to the Champions League group stages with a hat-trick against Club Brugge last night.
England captain Rooney ended a 10-game barren spell with a clinical treble – his first in Europe since his United debut against Fenerbahce in 2004 – while Ander Herrera also netted.
Reaching the Champions League group stages, the draw for which takes place today, following a one-year absence also means that United are guaranteed to bank around £30m, while an additional £45m is payable should they win the competition.
“A lot of top quality strikers are yet to get off the mark but I understand, I have done so from an early age, that because of my name and because of who I am it will get publicised a lot more,” said Rooney. “If I didn’t have a strong character then maybe that criticism would have affected me but I know my quality and what I give to the team and if the goals don’t go in, I still bring a lot for my team-mates.
“I wasn’t worried. If it went on for three, four, five games more then maybe so but it’s early days.”
United opened the scoring after 20 minutes when Rooney darted onto an incisive reverse pass by Memphis Depay and dinked the ball over advancing goalkeeper Sinan Bolat.
The tie was put beyond all doubt on 48 minutes as Rooney applied the finishing touches to a slick United move, slotting home Herrera’s square ball following more expansive play from former PSV Eindhoven forward Depay.
Rooney fired Juan Mata’s through ball across Bolat for his hat-trick shortly before the hour mark, while moments later Herrera waltzed through the hosts’ defence to slot home substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger’s sumptuous 40-yard pass. United’s £31m signing Depay fluffed a late penalty as substitute Javier Hernandez blazed over a close-range tap-in.
WHAT'S IT WORTH
▀ Just for reaching Champions League group stage Man Utd would be guaranteed around £28m
▀ By winning the competition Man Utd could earn an estimated additional £45m