London, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – Robin van Persie recorded his first UEFA Champions League hat trick to lead Manchester United to a 3-0 win over Olympiacos FC and a spot in the quarterfinal at Old Trafford.
Beaten in the first leg of the round of 16, David Moyes’ men overturned the 2-0 deficit thanks to Van Persie’s performance.
The back-to-form Dutchman opened the scoring from the penalty spot, added a second on the cusp of half-time and then completed the turnaround with a free-kick soon after the restart.
“We needed to bounce back and we did it with style and played very well. We deservedly got the victory. I thought it was a magnificent team performance. We carried no passengers and everybody fought their corner,” Moyes said.
The win injected new life to Manchester United’s troubled season and eased some of the pressure on Moyes, who was reported to be on the chopping block.
“I’m not feeling any pressure from inside the club. We know the job we have to do, it’s probably bigger than what I thought when I first came to the club. People are looking for reasons why we are not doing well but it is only because we have not been playing well,” Moyes added.
It was 30 years ago this week that Manchester United overcame such a deficit – against FC Barcelona in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Van Persie gave United the lead in the 25th minute after making a penalty from a tackle by Jose Holebas.
United almost had a second goal in the 35th minute when Evra got his head to Van Persie’s corner but Roberto was there to make a stop.
Olympiacos, fresh from winning the Greek title last weekend, nearly had a goal in the 40th minute but David de Gea denied it with a brilliant double save.
Before the halftime break, van Persie gave United a 2-0 lead when he kicked Wayne Rooney’s low cross past Roberto.
Van Persie completed his hat trick five minutes into the second half as United cruised to victory.
In the other, Borussia Dortmund reached the last eight of the UEFA Champions League for the second straight season despite a 2-1 loss to FC Zenit in the round of 16.
Hulk’s powerful opener raised hopes that the Russian side could recover their 4-2 first-leg deficit, but Sebastian Kehl’s first strike in 30 UEFA Champions League appearances left them once again requiring three goals.
They managed one in the form of Jose Rondon’s diving header, but it proved too little, too late as Dortmund progressed 5-4 on aggregate.