Rooney, making his first start for Man United since February following injury, started the move that led to Marcus Rashford’s winner at Old Trafford.
And van Gaal, who brought off Rooney after 66 minutes, had kind words for his captain following the game.
“That pass [in the build-up to the goal] was fantastic,” van Gaal said.
“He did a lot of switches. I think he played a very good first half but, in the second half, you could see he was tired. He was losing the ball [several times] in a row but that’s also logical when you’re not playing for two months and not training for two months. It is difficult to adapt to the rhythm of the Premier League.”
Rooney has been criticised during his injury absence as there are some who believe that United and England would be better off without him in the side.
The debate will likely rage on but the fact remains that Rooney is one of the most experienced players in the squad. His experience and knowhow could prove to be valuable as United chase a top four spot and the FA Cup.