By Ayeotan Shola
Wayne Rooney hat-trick powered Manchester United back into the group stage of the Champions League with a 4-0 win, 7-1 on aggregate, in their playoff second leg at Club Brugge on Wednesday as Lazio fell 3-0 to Bayer Leverkusen.
It was a sensational return to form for the England striker, who had gone 10 games without a goal for United prior to Wednesday.
Lazio took a one-goal advantage to Germany but were trailing following goals in either half from Hakan Calhanoglu and Admir Mehmedi and faced an uphill battle as they played the last 20 minutes with ten men when Brazilian Maurício was sent off for a second yellow card.
Karim Bellarabi put the result beyond any doubt for the Germans when he finished into an empty net two minutes from time after good work from Julian Brandt.
Astana made history as they became the first Kazakh team to qualify for the main competition with a 1-1 draw at Cypriot side Apoel in a 2-1 aggregate victory.
In Serbia, Belarussian champions BATE Borisov reached the group stages for the fourth time in five years on away goals after a 2-1 loss at Partizan Belgrade, having won the first leg 1-0.
2010 quarterfinalists CSKA Moscow also advanced after a come-from-behind 3-1 success against Sporting Lisbon – 4-3 on aggregate – to add to their record of seven wins out of seven in Russia this season.
Portuguese giants Sporting had taken a 2-1 advantage to Moscow and Teofilo Gutierrez scored an away goal after 36 minutes before a second half double from CSKA’s Ivorian striker Seydou Doumbia on 49 and 72 minutes left the tie level.
Nigerian forward Ahmed Musa got the winner for the Russians five minutes from time as they qualify for the main draw for the third straight season.
The draws for the group stages will be conducted in Monaco on Thursday.