Wayne Rooney starred for Manchester United as they kept their Europa League campaign alive with a 4-0 win over Feyenoord on Thursday night.
Defeat at Old Trafford would have seen United knocked out of the competition at the group stage, but Rooney struck in the 36th minute to put them in front and become the club’s leading goalscorer in Europe with 39 – one ahead of Ruud van Nistelrooy.
The Manchester United captain then superbly set up Juan Mata for their second after the break, before former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones put through his own net and substitute Jesse Lingard netted in stoppage time to seal the points for Jose Mourinho’s side.
The result leaves United second in Group A on nine points, and knowing a draw in their final game at Zorya in two weeks will be enough to see them through to the last 32.
It was United who started the stronger as Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick went close in the early stages, but it was a former Liverpool man who nearly gave Feyenoord the lead after 26 minutes.
Making his first return to Old Trafford in four years, Dirk Kuyt saw his effort kept out by Sergio Romero, starting between the sticks ahead of David de Gea, seconds after the Argentina international had denied Nicolai Jorgenson’s strike from 10 yards.
United’s early dominance had started to wane but they did take the lead nine minutes later, as Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic combined well before the England captain, despite a hint of offside, deftly finished past Brad Jones.
It was a great response from Rooney after a tough week off the pitch, with the goal also moving him to within one of Sir Bobby Charlton’s club goals record of 249.
The goal eased the tension around Old Trafford and United started to play superbly, especially after the break when Henrikh Mkhitaryan came into his own on just his second start for the club.
The Armenia international hadn’t started a game since being hauled off at half-time in the Manchester derby in September, but looked lively in the second half as he combined well with Rooney, Ibrahimovic and Mata to test the Feyenoord defence.
It was the latter trio who combined for United’s second after 69 minutes, though, as Ibrahimovic slipped Rooney into the box before his sublime blind reverse pass found Mata, leaving the Spaniard with the simplest of tasks to slot the ball into an empty net from six yards.
And just six minutes later it was game over thanks to Jones’ own goal, the goalkeeper unfortunately turning Ibrahimovic’s low pull-back across the line as he tried to cut it out.
Lingard found time to put the icing on the cake for United, picking the ball up on the edge of the area two minutes into stoppage time before curling a fine effort into the bottom corner.