Wayne Rooney became Manchester United’s record European goalscorer in his side’s impressive 4-0 Europa League win over Feyenoord at Old Trafford.
Rooney linked up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score his 39th continental goal for United late in the first half, moving him past the mark he previously shared with Ruud van Nistelrooy.
The strike also moved him to within just one of Bobby Charlton’s overall club goalscoring record, answering his critics after the emergence of images appearing to show him drunk while on international duty with England.
Rooney then played his part in an excellent team goal after the break, setting up Juan Mata to score shortly before Brad Jones’ own goal and a Jesse Lingard effort in stoppage time sealed a convincing win as United cruised home without being troubled by Feyenoord, who had beaten them earlier in the campaign.
A third home victory in Group A leaves Jose Mourinho’s side needing a point to be certain of qualifying for the last 32 going into the final round of group matches, when they will play Zorya Luhansk.
United now sit a point behind group leaders Fenerbahce and crucially two clear of Feyenoord – with those two teams facing each other in the last set of fixtures.
The Dutch side know they have to beat Fener if they are to stand any chance of progressing.
United made six changes to their team, but still fielded a strong line-up, with Ibrahimovic back from suspension, captain Rooney returning to the first XI and Henrikh Mkhitaryan handed only his second start for the club.
Paul Pogba forced Jones to tip his long-range shot over the crossbar in the first chance of note, with Michael Carrick’s effort from the resulting corner only just dealt with by a combination of the goalkeeper and captain Dirk Kuyt.
Feyenoord made a strong response, with United keeper Sergio Romero – in for David de Gea – saving from Rick Karsdorp and then making an impressive but unorthodox stop with his leg from Kuyt’s follow-up after the home defence had failed to clear the danger.
But it was United who made the breakthrough after 35 minutes, with Rooney making club history.
Rooney started move himself down the left and found Ibrahimovic before collecting the return pass and dinking a clever finish over Jones from close-range as the assistant referee’s flag stayed down despite the visitors’ appeals for offside.
Mkhitaryan almost made his mark with an excellent solo run, but was denied a free-kick and potential red card for Jens Toornstra after going down under his challenge just outside the box.
Mata’s impressive 20-yard chip was kept out by a back-pedalling Jones, while Mkhitaryan lashed an effort against the side-netting after linking up with Ibrahimovic as United looked by far the stronger side after the break.
A second was coming and it duly arrived with an impressive team goal 21 minutes from time.
After Carrick dispossessed Tonny Vilhena, Ibrahimovic slipped a pass through to Rooney, who in turn showed great vision to set up Mata to do the rest with a simple finish.
Jones saved from Ibrahimovic in a one-on-one, but the former Liverpool shot stopper was not so fortunate after 75 minutes, with substitute Marcus Rashford finding the Swede, whose attempted cross bounced in off the keeper’s legs.
Rooney was substituted to warm applause in the closing stages after a starring performance, with United on easy street as Feyenoord failed to trouble Romero in the second half.
And late substitute Lingard put the icing on the cake in the 92nd minute, collecting Antonio Valencia’s pass and curling a left-footed shot beyond Jones from outside the area, leaving Mourinho highly satisfied.
Key Opta stats:
– This was Jose Mourinho’s biggest victory with Manchester United this season in all competitions.
– Henrik Mkhitaryan mustered a game-high six shots in the match, two more than he had managed in his previous 134 minutes of action combined for Manchester United this season in all competitions.
– United directed 12 shots on target against Feyenoord, their most in a game in any competition this season.
– That total of 12 shots on target is the joint-most by a team in a Europa League game this season.
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