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Club Brugge 0-4 Manchester United: Five talking points

Wayne Rooney scores for Manchester United

Manchester United's 4-0 Champions League play-off win away to Club Brugge gave them a 7-1 victory on aggregrate and takes Louis van Gaal's men back into the group stages of Europe's premier club competition.

Wayne Rooney was the star of the show with a hat-trick to mark his return to form after failing to find the net in the opening four games of the season.

Here, we pick out all the talking points, including the contrasting performances of United's wide men and some answers to the question of where Ander Herrera is likely to produce his best form...

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Louis van Gaal was very happy with Manchester United's performance in their 4-0 victory against Club Brugge

Relief for Rooney

Rooney came into the game having played 354 minutes this season without scoring a goal and the pressure was building. He passed the six-hour mark before finally lancing the boil by going on to net a fine hat-trick. Van Gaal had challenged him to "prove it" regarding his ability to score the goals needed in that striker role and the first, in particular - a delightful dinked finish - represents a start. Rooney's relief was obvious.

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Wayne Rooney  celebrates with Ander Herrera
Image: Ander Herrera and Wayne Rooney were to the fore against Club Brugge

Jury out on Januzaj

Rooney is experienced enough to know these goals won't end all the questions, but he need only look to Adnan Januzaj if he'd had any doubts. His winner at Aston Villa meant the Belgium international managed at the first attempt, what he'd failed to do in 21 appearances last season – score a goal – but he soon had Van Gaal highlighted "unnecessary ball losses" afterwards. Hauled off at half-time in Belgium having struggled to get involved, this was a step backwards.

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Manchester's Wayne Rooney (C) celebrates with teammates during the UEFA Champions League play-off round second leg football match against Club Brugge
Image: Adnan Januzaj (left) found himself on the periphery before being withdrawn

More Memphis magic

In contrast, his fellow wide man showed again just what a threat he could be for United this season. It took Memphis a bit of time to get involved but when he did pick up the ball in the final third, his class was evident – cutting inside and threading a pass through for Rooney's opener. His two goals and two assists across both legs did for Club Brugge and the 21-year-old has shown enough to suggest he'll be able to trouble better opposition as the competition progresses.

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Herrera's best role?

Van Gaal's template has been to use two holding midfield players so far this season but some United supporters had been calling for Herrera to get his opportunity after impressing in the spring. He showed the two sides to his game in Belgium, struggling to offer protection in a deeper role before enjoying himself further forwards after the break.

Ander Herrera of Manchester United celebrates
Image: Herrera had rather more success playing further forwards after the break

Herrera's carelessness sparked Club Brugge's first attack and on 13 minutes he surrendered possession in his own area before diving into a tackle and getting booked. Only after Bastian Schweinsteiger's half-time introduction did he improve – and dramatically - providing a neat assist for Rooney before scoring himself. It seems the No 10 slot might be a better bet.

Are United contenders?

Five teams have gone through the qualifying stages of the Champions League to win the whole thing. Indeed, United were the first to do so back in 1999. But it still feels a little premature to be predicting glory for this fledgling side. Club Brugge caused some problems despite the scoreline and there are issues to be addressed all over the pitch.

Louis van Gaal
Image: Can Louis van Gaal turn Manchester United into genuine contenders?

However, there are already signs that Van Gaal will welcome the return to European competition. Even David Moyes' United came within half an hour of the semi-finals and with the bookmakers having installed them as seventh favourites, the last eight would seem an attainable target. With a confident Rooney, who knows how much further they could go? 

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