With Wayne Rooney's form coming under scrutiny, the England and Manchester United striker came through with a much-needed hat trick for both him and his club.
Rooney opened the scoring early in the second leg of Manchester United's UEFA Champions League playoff series with Club Brugge and then scored another two in the second half, putting United in the driver's seat to return to the Champions League and ending his own drought.
Rooney had scored once in preseason but not at all in four games (three Premier League, one Champions League playoff), and his form has been garnering more and more negative headlines by the week. Twenty minutes into Wednesday's match, Rooney rendered that all moot. He timed his run to meet the through ball from first-leg hero Memphis Depay and then dinked a close-range chance over goalkeeper Sinan Bolat.
The goal gave United a 4-1 aggregate lead and a 1-0 edge on the day, nullifying Brugge's away goal from the first leg.
Rooney capped a great team combination to tally his second in the 49th minute. Depay found Ander Herrera on the right, and he crossed back into the center of the box, where Rooney finished with a one-time effort to increase the aggregate lead to 5-1.
Rooney finished off his hat trick in the 57th minute, timing his run again to stay onside as Juan Mata found him in between defenders. He finished calmly to give United a 6-1 advantage.