By Imran Kardar
Although when the draw was made you would expect a club the stature of Manchester United to cruise through the qualification stages however in the crazy world of football you never know and never say never! United came through their second leg v Club Brugge in Belgium with flying colors! It was a performance befitting the club. On the night United scored 4 goals and kept a clean sheet with Wayne Rooney returning to the score sheet and boy did he return or what?! United lined up in the usual 4-2-3-1 with Herrera and Carrick in the midfield as opposed to Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin. They played quick tempo football and passed the ball around with pace and prupose. The opening goal was a delightful through ball from Memphis, who cut in from the left wing, faked to shoot then slipped in a pass to Rooney who chipped the keeper for a cool finish! Get in! Rooney celebrated with hands up in the air, thanking God for finally ending his drought.
The second half saw much of the same as the first with some quick exchange of play between Shaw winning the ball and passing to Memphis who found Herrera making a run on the right wing and passed to Rooney for an easy finish. 2-0 United, Wazza with a brace. The hat-trick came soon after when Mata played another quality pass on to the run of Rooney and he put it past the keeper for his and United’s third. Confidence grew for United and Brugge looked as if they had given up. But United remained relentless and grabbed a fourth courtesy of another absolutely brilliant, defense splitting pass from Schweinsteiger to Herrera, who beat the offside trap and charged on at goal and finished past the keeper. What a pass!
Chicharito was sent on and got a chance to score when United were given a penalty for a handball, which in my opinion was very harsh as the defender headed the ball on to his arm which was barely a foot away. Justice was served and Chicharito slipped while taking the PK and the ball went wide. It was to remain 4-0 on the night and 7-1 on aggregate over the two legs. Manchester United had qualified for the group stages of the Champions League! You could see a sense of relief on the faces of the player and the staff.
Performances all around the squad were good with Rooney the clear favorite for the Man of the Match. In my pre match article I had said that this is a big game for Rooney and boy did it turn out to be big! He was lacking that confidence in front of goal and seemed to be feeling the pressure of not scoring. However, he took all three goals with great composure and hopefully for United this will be the start of a run of goals from their Captain.
The group stages draw takes place on Thursday and Untied have been placed in pot 2 with the likes of Real Madrid and Arsenal. The draw should be very interesting as United could be drawn against giants like Bayern and Barca, who are placed in pot 1. But I don’t think they will be too bothered who they are drawn against rather more happy to be back where they belong! Glory, Glory, Man United!