UEFA Champions League Play-off Round Second Leg
Club Brugge vs. Manchester United
Venue: Jan Breydel Stadium
Date: Wednesday, 26 August 2015
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Manchester United booked their place in the group stages of the Champions League after overcoming Club Brugge 7-1 on aggregate.
Exactly one year one from a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of MK Dons, United dished out their own 4-0 drubbing, defeating the Belgian side in style.
Captain Wayne Rooney ended a worrying 10 game streak without a goal by securing a hat-trick, as Ander Herrera, on his first start of the season, scored United’s fourth, as the opening 18 minutes of the second half saw United finish the tie off with three quick-fire goals, on top of Rooney’s 20th minute opener.
It could, and should have been more, as substitute Javier Hernandez missed a penalty late on, but United are back in club football’s biggest competition, where they await Thursday’s draw.
It was the hosts who had the first chance of the game, with Tom de Sutter seeing his volley blocked by Luke Shaw at the far post.
Juan Mata also saw a shot blocked, before nodding the rebound down to Rooney, but his Villa-esque attempt from April went harmlessly over the bar.
He made no mistake with the next chance, however, as Memphis, cutting and running inside from the left, threaded the ball through to United’s skipper, and his slight dink was enough to beat the onrushing Sinan Bolat.
Herrera, earlier booked, blazed over from his fellow Spaniard Mata’s lay-off, as Shaw’s headed through ball sent Memphis free after he shrugged over the challenge of Davy de Fauw, but his eventual shot was blocked behind.
The understanding between Memphis and Rooney is beginning to show, and the former teed up the latter, whose deflected shot fell through to the safe hands of Bolat.
The Club Brugge pressure was then cranked up a notch before half-time, with de Sutter seeing a shot saved by Romero, before Daley Blind nearly headed a dangerous cross from the left into his own net.
The resulting corner, taken by captain Victor Vazquez was hooked on by De Fauw, but no-one was there to meet it, and the ball fell behind for a goal-kick.
The final chance of the first half fell to Boli Bolingoli, who rounded Romero, but with United having bodies back, he took an age to get a shot away, as Romero recovered to thwart the winger’s attempt, as the visitors cleared their lines.
United were decent in the first half, but even better in the second, as Rooney appealed for a penalty as Oscar Duarte slid in, although replays showed that no penalty was the correct call.
Just two minutes later Rooney bagged his second, after a brilliant move saw Shaw, Memphis and Herrera combine, with the latter’s ball across the face of goal allowing Rooney to tap home.
If the first appeal wasn’t a penalty, Memphis certainly should have had one, as the ball then ended up at the feet of Herrera, whose tame left foot effort was held.
Just like against Aston Villa 12 days ago, Mata proved how good he is in the middle of the park, as his through ball found Rooney, who finished in style by nutmegging Bolat, to complete a well-deserved hat-trick.
It was nearly déjà vu as another sublime through ball by Mata allowed Rooney to race in on goal, but his dink was saved behind by the busy Bolat.
Shaw ventured inside off the left flank and teed up Mata, whose first time effort curled just over the bar.
If one Spaniard wasn’t going to score then another was, as Herrera latched onto half-time substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger’s through ball, and slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
United, already in their stride, broke with purpose moments later, as Memphis found Schweinsteiger, whose dink fell wide at the far post.
Club Brugge substitute Hans Vanaken saw his volley smash against the bar, before Ruud Vormer blazed over after a corner was cleared to his feet.
Vormer was then booked for a foul on Memphis, as the latter’s resulting free-kick struck the wall, and Hernandez, United’s final change, headed Matteo Darmian’s cross over the bar after the Italian picked up the loose ball.
Hernandez had an even better opportunity to score, after Rooney’s cross was harshly deemed as ball-to-hand on Duarte, but the Mexican slipped and his spot-kick fell wide.
Things got from bad to worse for Hernandez, as he missed a sitter, somehow putting the ball over the bar from Ashley Young’s low cross from the right.
Let’s hope he doesn’t get too disheartened at that, as United are back in the Champions League after a season without European football last year.
A comfortable win, and altogether tie for Louis van Gaal’s side, whom will be pleased with the way United navigated their way past a tricky opponent.
Having made their way to another country in order to play this game, United do so again this weekend, as they travel to South Wales to face Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium in the Barclays Premier League, with a 4pm kick-off time (BST).
Manchester United: Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw; Carrick, Herrera (Hernandez 64); Mata (Young 62), Januzaj (Schweinsteiger 46), Memphis; Rooney.
Subs: johnstone, McNair, Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, Young, Fellaini, Hernandez.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Club Brugge: Bolat; de Fauw, Castelletto, Duarte, de Bock; Vormer, Claudemir, Vazquez (Vanaken 62); Diaby (Dierckx 62), de Sutter, Bolingoli (Cools 77).
Subs: Bruzese, Meunier, Vanaken, Cools, de Smul, Dierckx, Oulare.
Manager: Michel Preud’homme