LONDON • Manager Jose Mourinho challenged Wayne Rooney to lead Manchester United to Europa League glory after the forward broke the English football club's European scoring record against Feyenoord.
The 31-year-old scored his 39th European goal as United crushed the Dutch side 4-0 on Thursday, thereby closing to within just one goal of Bobby Charlton's all-time club scoring record of 249 goals.
United need just a draw with Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk away in their final Group A game to progress and Mourinho said Rooney can be the inspiration behind the club's first success in the competition.
"It's an amazing achievement," Mourinho told reporters when asked to sum up Rooney's feat of surpassing Ruud van Nistelrooy as United's outright leading scorer in Uefa competitions. "It will be even better if he can help to bring to the club the only competition that the club never won in its history (the Europa League).
"It's not the biggest competition, obviously, but it's a competition that Man United's history doesn't have. So let's try, let's push.
"I know that it's difficult. I know there are lots of matches in the knockout (phase). But let's try to qualify and, if we qualify in Ukraine, then (there will be) more matches to come and hopefully more goals for Rooney to score."
THE ONE TROPHY THAT'S MISSING
Let's try to qualify and, if we qualify in Ukraine, then (there will be) more matches to come and hopefully more goals for Rooney to score.
JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager, exhorting his captain to what he feels should be the club's next target - the Europa League title.
Rooney's performance followed a week of negative headlines after he supposedly "gatecrashed" a late-night wedding party while on England duty.
Despite his milestone, the England captain missed out on the man-of-the-match award to his team-mate Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who marked his first start since Sept 10 with a fine display.
While Mkhitaryan's direct running and neat footwork delighted the Old Trafford crowd, Mourinho said the former Borussia Dortmund star still had work to do.
"He just needs now to try to replicate this type of performance in the Premier League. The Premier League is different," said Mourinho, whose side entertain West Ham United tomorrow.
"He needs one more step. Obviously now confidence levels are higher. This performance gives him the right to believe that he can play the next match again and he needs to replicate this kind of performance in the Premier League, with more physicality, more aggression."
Rooney gave United a 35th-minute lead, starting the move in his own half and exchanging passes with Zlatan Ibrahimovic before coolly chipping Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones.
Rooney teed up Juan Mata for United's second goal in the 69th minute and, after an own goal by Jones, substitute Jesse Lingard sealed victory in stoppage time.
United replaced Feyenoord in second place in Group A, a point below leaders Fenerbahce.
Feyenoord must now win at home against Fenerbahce in their final group game if they are to guarantee a spot in the round of 32.
Beaten manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst said: "After 70 minutes, you could see the difference in quality."