Red hot Rooney eyes best ever haul

MANCHESTER - Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is eyeing his best goalscoring season after bagging a hat-trick in a 4-1 win at the Premier League's bottom side Portsmouth on Saturday.

Rooney's third treble for the club since he joined from Everton in 2004 has set the England man, already on 10 goals for the season, well on his way to smashing his previous best of 23 in all competitions in 2006/07.

With the prolific Cristiano Ronaldo no longer at Old Trafford after moving to Real Madrid earlier this year, Rooney is relishing the opportunity to score more goals - especially from the penalty spot.

"Taking penalties my tally should be a lot higher. Thankfully, I've scored two of them today," the 24-year-old was quoted as saying on the United website. "It's a great feeling to score a hat-trick, an amazing feeling."

It was Rooney's first treble since October 2006 when United tore Bolton Wanderers apart and the third of his career. The first came against Turkish club Fenerbahce in a Champions League match in September 2004 on the striker's United debut.

Rooney, who earlier this month captained England for the first time in this month's 1-0 defeat by Brazil and also became a father, has 25 goals from 57 appearances for England. "JUST UNBELIEVABLE"

Rooney was also full of praise for team mate and veteran winger Ryan Giggs, who got on the scoresheet against Portsmouth to take him to 100 Premier League goals.

"If you'd have looked at him playing today you'd never have thought he was anywhere near 36. More 26," he told Sky Sports ahead of Giggs's birthday on Sunday.

"The way he conducts himself, his performances are just unbelievable."

Giggs set up two goals at Fratton Park but preferred to focus on the effect a second-half downpour had on the champions.

"The rain helped. It made the pitch a lot quicker and we were much slicker with our passing," he told the United website.

United manager Alex Ferguson also spoke highly of Giggs after the match. "Ryan Giggs is an exceptional player. A rarity. He will play for two years yet," he told the BBC. Welshman Giggs joined United in 1990 and has since racked up over 800 appearances, a club record.