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CL: To get into the group stages after last year is great, says Rooney

Manchester United striker ecstatic after scoring hat-trick against Brugge to confirm Reds’ return to prestigious Champions League 

Paris: A Wayne Rooney hat-trick fired Manchester United back into the group stage of the Champions League with a 4-0 win, 7-1 on aggregate, in their play-off second leg at Club Brugge on Wednesday night as Lazio crashed 3-0 at Bayer Leverkusen (3-1 on aggregate).


Man Utd’s Wayne Rooney (right) scores against Club Brugge in the UEFA Champions League qualifier in Belgium on Wednesday. Pic/AFP

Rooney’s treble was also a timely return to form for the England striker, who had gone 10 games without a goal for United prior to Wednesday. Dutch midfielder Memphis Depay had a role in Rooney’s first two goals on 20 and 49 minutes, with a Juan Mata cross eight minutes later allowing the United captain complete his hat-trick. Spaniard Ander Herrera compounded a night of misery for the Belgian club after 63 minutes following a Bastian Schweinsteiger cross to put the three-time winners of the Champions League through in style, despite substitute Javier Hernandez missing a late penalty. Manchester United - winners in 1968, 1999 and 2008 — didn’t feature in the tourney last year but previously reached the group stages for 18 years in succession.

“To go through to the group stage after being out of it last year is great. It was a big disappointment last year not to challenge in it. We didn’t think it would be as comfortable as it was,” said Rooney.

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