The Spaniard, who begun the tie playing alongside Michael Carrick in a deeper midfield role, looked off the pace and rusty during the first half.
Herrera picked up a yellow card and his substitution looked imminent once Bastian Schweinsteiger started warming up at half time.
Instead, however, the 26-year-old was moved forward to replace Adnan Januzaj behind Wayne Rooney. The switch by the manager proved ingenious as Herrera provided a goal and an assist in what was United’s best half of attacking football for some time.
Herrera’s performance held uncanny resemblance with the 0-2 away win over Yeovil in the FA Cup in January, where the Spaniard struggled alongside Darren Fletcher in central midfield but excelled once moved further forward.
His performance gives Louis van Gaal a problem with his selection now because it makes it much more difficult. Herrera proved he deserves to start but how can everybody fit into the team?
Herrera’s liveliness and precision once moved alongside the two wingers against Brugge propelled him into the game in explosive style, as the previously meek looking Spaniard began to find himself central to all of United’s attacking moves.
Perhaps the successful tactical tweak will prompt van Gaal into dropping Adnan Januzaj for Sunday’s game against Swansea City; supporters would certainly prefer Herrera, who scored in United’s last visit to the Liberty Stadium, in that role as opposed to the inconsistent youngster ahead of a crucial clash.