Manchester United F.C. in UEFA Champions League quarters after Robin van Persie hat-trick vs Olympiakos
Robin van Persie scored a hat-trick as Manchester United kept their season alive by storming back to beat Olympiakos 3-0 and reach the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.
United were left on the brink of elimination after losing the first leg of the last 16 tie 2-0, but on a stirring night at Old Trafford the Dutchman’s treble took them into the last eight for the first time since 2011.
It was the first time United had ever overturned a two-goal deficit in the competition and made them only the sixth team to have clawed back a disadvantage of two goals or more in the Champions League era.
Victory was far from straightforward, however, with United goalkeeper David de Gea notably producing a fine double save shortly before Van Persie levelled the tie in first-half injury time.
“I’m very pleased,” said United manager David Moyes, who had seen his team beaten 3-0 at home by Liverpool on Sunday.
“After Sunday’s performance and result we needed to bounce back and I thought we did it with style. We played very well and deservedly got our victory.”
United’s progress will ease the pressure on Moyes, whose position was the subject of intense press speculation prior to kick-off, but he will remain under scrutiny over the season’s closing weeks.
The one-sided loss to Liverpool left United 12 points outside the top four in the Premier League, meaning that they may have to qualify for next season’s Champions League by winning the current edition.
Van Persie’s evening ended on a sour note, as he was stretchered from the field in the latter stages after going down holding his leg, but Moyes played down the extent of his injury.
“I don’t think it’s too bad,” he said. “We’ll know more in the morning, but it looked like he got a knee in the back of his knee.”