Manchester - Wayne Rooney became Manchester United's
outright leading European goal-scorer as Jose Mourinho's side enhanced their
chances of progressing in the Europa League by sinking Feyenoord 4-0 on
Rooney struck in the 35th minute to claim his 39th European
goal, one more than Ruud van Nistelrooy, and move to within just one goal of
Bobby Charlton's all-time club scoring record of 249.
Further goals by Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and a Brad Jones
own goal completed a win that left United a point below Group A leaders
Fenerbahce in second place ahead of their final game at Zorya Luhansk.
United will go into that game knowing a draw will take them
into the last 32, having avenged their 1-0 match-one day defeat at Feyenoord,
who slipped to third in the group.
Thursday's win was a personal triumph for Rooney, 31, who
branded the British media "disgraceful" after he was pilloried for
partying late into the night while on England duty.
Charlton, now a United director, was watching on at Old
Trafford and could now see Rooney equal his record against West Ham United in
the Premier League on Sunday.
Mourinho made six changes to the United team held 1-1 by
Arsenal last Saturday, the most notable of which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan make
his first start since September 10.
The Armenia playmaker, a 26 million pounds ($32.4 million,
30.7 million euros) signing from Borussia Dortmund, showed no signs of
rustiness and was a source of menace throughout.
Also read: Mourinho tight-lipped over Rooney drink row
After a strong start, there was a scare for United midway
through the first half when Eljero Elia jinked past Phil Jones and delivered a
cross that was deflected into the path of Rick Karsdorp.
The right-back's shot was blocked by United goalkeeper
Sergio Romero and when Dirk Kuyt smashed the rebound goalwards, the Argentina
international stuck out his right leg to complete a smart double save.
- Mkhitaryan goes close -
Feyenoord had struck late to defeat United in the reverse
fixture in Rotterdam, but any thoughts of a repeat were banished 10 minutes
before half-time as Rooney rolled back the clock in style.
Picking up the ball on the left touchline inside his own
half, he beat Karsdorp, slid a pass infield to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and cantered
into the box to collect the Swede's through ball and dink a shot over former
Liverpool goalkeeper Jones.
There was a question of offside, and Renato Tapia was left
on the deck after a coming-together with Rooney on the edge of the box, but
German referee Manuel Graefe allowed the goal to stand.
Energised by the goal, United began to turn it on the second
Mkhitaryan sped past five Feyenoord players, only to be
denied a free-kick after being clipped by Jens Toornstra, while Mata's elegant
chip drew a finger-tip save from the backpedalling Jones.
Mkhitaryan was soon on the scene again, exchanging passes
with Ibrahimovic, stealing past Kuyt -- another Liverpool old boy -- and
thrashing a left-foot shot into the side-netting.
A second goal seemed a matter of time and so it proved in
the 69th minute as Ibrahimovic's deft pass freed Rooney, who cleverly squared
the ball for Mata to slide it home.
Jones denied Ibrahimovic after his weak kick had gone
straight to Mkhitaryan, but he was more obliging moments later when he
inadvertently deflected the Swede's cross into his own goal.
Lingard, a late replacement for Mata, was twice thwarted by
Jones, but prevailed at the third attempt with a curling left-foot shot.For
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