Wayne Rooney became Manchester United's all-time leading scorer in Europe surpassing Ruud van Nistelrooy as his side registered a 4-0 win over Feyenoord in the Europa League.
After scoring his 39th European goal in the 35th minute, Rooney also unselfishly set up Juan Mata in the 69th, leaving United on its way to an easy victory and in a good position to advance to the knockout rounds.
United got a third on the board with an own-goal by Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones after an angled shot by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 75th. Substitute Jesse Lingard added a fourth in injury time.
“Tonight was a performance and a result,” United manager Jose Mourinho said. “Today they played very well again, and with goals, which is very important for us. We always told since Day 1 we wanted to do well in the Europa League and we were in a position of needing four points and now we need just one.”
United reached nine points and is only one behind Group A leader Fenerbahce, which defeated Ukraine’s Zorya Luhansk 2-0 in Turkey. Feyenoord has seven points.
An away draw against already eliminated Zorya in the final round in December will be enough to send United through and help relieve some of the pressure on Mourinho.
Rooney’s goal _ his first at Old Trafford this season – came after a well-timed pass by Ibrahimovic. The England forward calmly flicked the ball over Jones after receiving the ball behind the Feyenoord defenders inside the area.
It was Rooney’s 248th goal for United, leaving him just one short of Bobby Charlton’s all-time record with the club.
The 31-year-old Rooney’s chances of drawing level with Charlton ended for this match when he was substituted in the 82nd.
A good night’s work for Rooney came more than a week after he was forced to apologize for apparent late-night revelry while on England duty, when he was pictured looking bleary-eyed at a wedding reception at the team hotel.
Rooney insisted to BT Sport after Thursday’s match that “I actually didn’t even step foot into the wedding,” adding “I think it’s a shame that I’m having to talk about it now after such a great victory.”
On his European record, Rooney said: “It’s a great feeling to score goals and to score goals for this club.”
HAPOEL BEER-SHEVA 3, INTER MILAN 2
Inter Milan couldn’t hold on to a two-goal lead against Israeli club Hapoel Beer-Sheva on Thursday, being eliminated from the Europa League with one round still to be played.
Inter conceded three goals in the second half, including one in the third and final minute of stoppage time, as it lost for the fourth time in five games in Group K.
Sparta Prague, which defeated Southampton 1-0 at home, secured first place in the group with 12 points, five more than both Hapoel and Southampton, which meet in England in the final round. Inter stayed on three points.
The Italian club played with 10 men from the 69th minute as goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was sent off for a foul that prompted Hapoel’s equalizer from a penalty kick.
Mauro Icardi scored his sixth goal in as many games for Inter in the 13th and Marcelo Brozovic added to the lead in the 25th. But the hosts got one back through Lucio Maranhao in the 58th and Anthony Nwakaeme converted the penalty after Handanovic’s red card.
Striker Ben Sahar netted the late winner with a shot from inside the area after a fast breakaway that caught Inter’s defense off guard.
ROMA 4, VIKTORIA PLZEN 1
Edin Dzeko scored a hat trick but it was Argentine forward Diego Perotti who attracted all the attention with a rabona goal late in the game in Rome.
Inside the area, and slightly off balance, Perotti quickly brought his right foot behind his left to delicately chip the ball into the goal from a tough angle. UEFA called it an own goal by Ales Mateju with the ball taking a slight deflection before hitting the crossbar and going in.
Perotti said it “was meant to be a cross.”
Roma was one of nine teams Thursday to secure a spot in the round of 32, along with Anderlecht, APOEL, Athletic Bilbao, Genk, Krasnodar, Olympiakos, Saint-Etienne and Sparta Prague.
Villarreal missed a chance to reach the top of a tightly fought Group L after conceding an 87th-minute equalizer against FC Zurich, leaving the group lead with Turkish side Osmanlispor, which lost 2-1 at Steaua Bucharest.
Fiorentina lost 3-2 to Greek side PAOK at home but remained with a three-point lead in Group J, while Zenit St. Petersburg maintained a perfect record after a 2-0 home win against Maccabi Tel Aviv in Group D. Zenit has a 10-point lead at the top.
Schalke defeated Nice 2-0 to also stay comfortably ahead in Group I, and Group H leader Shakhtar Donetsk routed Konyaspor 4-0.
Ajax stayed ahead in Group G with a 2-0 win over last-placed Panathinaikos, while Athletic Bilbao guaranteed its place in the next round by beating Sassuolo 3-2 in Group F.