Manchester United remained in control of the club’s Europa League destiny with one group game to play as Wayne Rooney made history in a dominant 4-0 win over Feyenoord at Old Trafford.
The captain, returning to the starting line-up, became United’s all-time leading scorer in Europe on 39 goals with a composed finish to give the Reds a deserved 1-0 lead at the break.
In the second half, Juan Mata slid home his fifth goal of the season to double the lead before Zlatan Ibrahimovic laid on the third strike of the night as his cross was diverted into his own net by Feyenoord’s goalkeeper Brad Jones.
Substitute Jesse Lingard capped off a stunning move with a glorious curling shot in stoppage time, as Jose Mourinho’s men ran out comfortable winners following a fine all-round display.
It means the Reds, who can still top the group, will book a place in the last 32 of the competition with a point away to Zorya Luhansk in the final Group A match on 8 December.
Staying true to his pre-match comments, Mourinho named a strong team despite making six changes from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal as Henrikh Mkhitaryan made only his second United start and Sergio Romero replaced the rested David De Gea in goal.
After Fenerbahce’s 2-0 win over Zorya Luhansk earlier in the evening, United kicked off knowing that a defeat would lead to elimination from this season’s competition while a win would almost be enough to go through.
The Reds made a positive start as Paul Pogba, who was a prominent figure early in the game, made a good run into the box to head an Antonio Valencia cross narrowly over before firing another effort off target in the opening exchanges.
The Frenchman came even closer in the 18th minute with a dipping shot which brought the best out of former Liverpool shot-stopper Brad Jones in the Feyenoord goal, who soon after denied a low effort from Michael Carrick – making a third successive start in the Reds midfield for the first time this season.
The Dutch Eredivisie leaders, content on defending deep and allowing United to have the ball, offered little as an attacking threat but brought a fine double save from Romero just before the half-hour mark.
Former Southampton winger Eljero Elia’s cross found Nicolai Jorgensen, whose shot on the turn was parried by the Argentine keeper, who then brilliantly diverted Feyenoord captain Dirk Kuyt’s follow-up attempt behind for a corner with his feet.
And it proved crucial as the Reds took the lead 10 minutes before half-time when Rooney, level with Miguel Nelom, controlled Ibrahimovic’s pinpoint pass before clipping a cool finish over the advancing Jones to score in back-to-back European matches, after his thunderous strike against Fenerbahce earlier this month.
Possession: United 63% Feyenoord 37%
Shots at goal: United 8 Feyenoord 3
Shots on target: United 4 Feyenoord 3
Corners: United 2 Feyenoord 1
With the manager’s half-time thoughts still ringing in their ears, United came out with renewed purpose after the break as first Ibrahimovic and then Mkhitaryan had efforts blocked by the resolute Feyenoord defence.
After Mkhitaryan didn’t get his rewards for a brilliant direct run when brought down by Jens Toornstra, Juan Mata skilfully made room for himself before his intelligent chip from the edge of the box almost caught out Jones, who was able to backpedal in time to tip over.
The Reds continued to carve out scoring opportunities as Mkhitaryan cut inside and his low deflected shot was turned home by Mata but celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag before Rooney’s cross was guided over by Ibrahimovic, who was also flagged for offside.
Mkhitaryan almost marked a lively return to the team with his first Reds goal on the hour mark, when bursting into the box from another incisive Ibrahimovic pass but his rasping left-foot shot rippled the side netting.
It was another scintillating move which brought about the second goal to clinch the points midway through the half as Rooney’s clever cutback rolled across the face of goal to allow Mata to slide in from close range.
Despite scoring for the second successive game, it proved to be the Spaniard’s final contribution as Marcus Rashford entered the fray.
Minutes later, the young striker played his part in United’s third goal by releasing Ibrahimovic, whose low cross was fortuitously diverted in off unfortunate keeper Jones for an own goal.
In the closing stages, Mkhitaryan received a standing ovation from the home crowd as he and Rooney were replaced by Lingard and Memphis.
After being denied by a fine save from Jones earlier, Lingard added the gloss to a breathtaking sequence of passes with a delightful finish to wrap up a crucial win which keeps the Reds’ European hopes alive and kicking.
Before the trip to Ukraine in a fortnight’s time, United switch focus to completing a run of four successive home games with a double header against West Ham – in the Premier League on Sunday and the EFL Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Possession: United 60% Feyenoord 40%
Shots at goal: United 22 Feyenoord 5
Shots on target: United 12 Feyenoord 3
Corners: United 6 Feyenoord 1
United: Romero; Valencia, Jones, Blind, Shaw; Carrick, Pogba; Mata (Rashford 69’), Rooney (c) (Depay 82’), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 82’); Ibrahimovic.
Subs not used: De Gea, Rojo, Fellaini, Herrera.
Feyenoord: Jones; Karsdorp, Tapia, Nelom, van der Heijden; Kuyt (c) (Berghuis 60’), Toornstra Basacikoglu 78’); Dammers, Vilhena, Elia; Jorgensen (Kramer 73’).
Subs not used: Hansson (GK), Vejinovic, Woudenberg, Nieuwkoop.