Wayne Rooney fired Manchester United into the Champions League with a hat-trick and then claimed he never doubted he would find his scoring touch again.

Rooney's 878-minute goal drought came to an end on Wednesday night as he scored three impressive goals in United's 4-0 win over Club Brugge.

The result meant United progressed to the group stages with a 7-1 aggregate win and no member of the travelling squad was happier than Rooney after the final whistle.

The United captain maintained he never lost faith in his abilities during his dry patch.

He told BT Sport: ''If I didn't have a strong character maybe that would have affected me, but I know my quality, I know what I give to the team and if the goals don't go in I still bring a lot to my team-mates.

''Thankfully I got the chances tonight and I stuck them in.

''I wasn't worried, if it was going on for three, four, five games more then maybe so but it's early days and I knew when the chances came I'd take them.

''As a striker obviously you want to score, everybody goes back to last season and it was so many games without scoring, but a lot of top quality strikers are yet to get off the mark at this stage.

''I understand because of my name and because of who I am it will get publicised a lot more. That's my job and I understand that.''

Rooney latched on to Memphis Depay's through-ball to put United ahead in the 20th minute and then doubled his tally by converting Ander Herrera's pass after the break.

The skipper then moved within 16 goals of Sir Bobby Charlton's scoring record with his third goal - a tidy finish from a Juan Mata cut-back.

Louis van Gaal feels he played a key part in keeping Rooney's confidence up during his recent troubles.

"I have given him always the confidence that a player needs," the United manager said.

"But I think Wayne has a very strong mentality and with his level he always shall come back. He proved that this evening.

"Still it's a long way for him and also for Manchester United it's not so easy, but of course I'm very happy for him."

Van Gaal handed Herrera his first start of the season in Bruges and the Spaniard did not let his manager down.

He laid Rooney on for his third goal and added the team's fourth with a calm finish following a brilliant through-ball by Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Van Gaal was reluctant to praise the former Athletic Bilbao man, who was far more effective when playing in the number 10 position following Adnan Januzaj's withdrawal at half-time.

"He started not so good," said Van Gaal, who watched Javier Hernandez spurn a chance to score a fifth from the penalty spot late on.

"He had a lot of ball losses and also a yellow card, so at that moment I wanted to change him, but then I saw he was coming back.

"And after that moment he plays a good match on the 'double six' position, but later on at 10 he was better. So I'm very pleased also for him."

Rooney, meanwhile, is looking forward to leading the club in Europe's biggest club competition after a painful one-year hiatus.

''To go through to the group stage after being out of it last year is a great result. We look forward to the draw now tomorrow,'' the striker said.

''It was a big disappointment last year not to challenge in it. We didn't think it would be as comfortable as it was, but it was vital we went through any way we could.

''Over the two legs we deserved that. We'll enjoy the draw and it is nice to be back in there again.''

Club Brugge coach Michel Preud'homme was impressed by United's display.

He said: "This team has everything -- technical quality, physical quality in power and endurance, and of course they have the mentality."