Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa used a late surge to become the first Asian player to record a hat trick in the English Premier League, writes Simon Stone.
Premier League: Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa makes up for lost time
MANCHESTER // Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United will need to wait for next season to see the best of hat-trick hero Shinji Kagawa.
The Japanese midfielder became the first Asian player to score a treble in the Premier League as he launched United towards a 4-0 win over Norwich City at Old Trafford.
It was the standout contribution to what was largely a drab affair and enough to take United 15 points clear of Manchester City in the title race.
Ferguson said there is much more to come from Kagawa, whose only other goals this term came before a knee injury sustained in October that kept him out for two months and hampered his progress following a summer move from Borussia Dortmund.
"It was a brilliant day for him," said Ferguson.
"He is a good finisher. His second goal was composed and intelligent, his last was brilliant. He missed that period of football in October and November; that set him back a bit.
"He is gradually getting his form back but next year he will be far better. You will see a really good player then."
Strangely, Kagawa's heroics may not be enough to get him a starting berth against Real Madrid on Tuesday. Rio Ferdinand and Rafael were left out with that game in mind, while Ryan Giggs was also denied a 1,000th senior appearance in readiness for some meaningful contribution against Jose Mourinho's men in the return leg of their Uefa Champions League last-16 tie.
"It will be a fantastic night," said Ferguson. "You are talking about two of the greatest clubs in the world. Emotions will be high and I am sure it will be a tremendous match. If we can get a blank against us on Tuesday we would go through. But I think both teams will score. I just hope we get more than them."
Chris Hughton, the Norwich manager, believes United will progress, just as he thinks - with 10 league games remaining - Ferguson's men are now sauntering towards a 20th championship.
"What you have with United is a team that is playing well enough," he said. "If you look at their recent run, they are winning games comfortably. At the moment you don't see any other outcome than them winning the title. Offensively, when they are at their best, United are outstanding."
Nevertheless, Norwich could feel aggrieved at the final score given they were only a goal down heading into the last 20 minutes.
It was then that Wayne Rooney made his decisive contribution, setting up two for Kagawa before belting home his 14th of the season in the final minute.
"It was good to get Wayne the full game," said Ferguson. "He scored a goal, which is always important for a striker. It will help his confidence."
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