Night to remember for Man Utd in forgettable season
Robin van Persie scored a sensational hat-trick as Manchester United beat Olympiakos 3-0 to progress to the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday, while Borussia Dortmund joined them in the last eight.sports Updated: Mar 21, 2014 01:11 IST
Robin van Persie scored a sensational hat-trick as Manchester United beat Olympiakos 3-0 to progress to the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday, while Borussia Dortmund joined them in the last eight.
Under-pressure United manager David Moyes saw his side produce a much-improved performance from Sunday’s 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool, and van Persie made the difference as the ailing Premier League champions overcame a 2-0 first-leg deficit to go through.
There was less drama in Germany, where last season’s beaten finalists Dortmund lost 2-1 at home to Zenit St Petersburg but progressed 5-4 on aggregate.
United had only previously come back from a first-leg defeat to win a Champions League tie once before, against Roma in the 2007 quarter-finals, and the listless nature of their recent displays would have done little to inspire confidence among the home fans.
However, a Wayne Rooney header that came back off the post set the tone before the three-time European champions were awarded a penalty midway through the first half when Jose Holebas barged into the back of van Persie.
The Dutchman confidently beat Roberto from the spot, and the Spanish goalkeeper then did well to save from a Patrice Evra header.
Olympiakos remained a threat and United goalkeeper David de Gea made a brilliant double save to deny David Fuster and Chori Dominguez as half-time approached.
United levelled the tie on aggregate in first-half stoppage time when Rooney’s low cross was lashed home first-time by van Persie, and he then scored the decisive third goal, and completed his hattrick, by curling home a free-kick in the 52nd minute.
Evra picked up a yellow card that rules him out of the first leg of their quarter-final while Van Persie went off with an injury late on.
“The way the players responded after Sunday’s defeat pleased me. I said to them on Monday morning we had to win 3-0 and give the crowd something back,” Moyes told a television channel.
At the Westfalenstadion, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a glorious chance to put Dortmund in front before Brazilian forward Hulk put Zenit ahead with a trademark 30-yard piledriver.
Having lost the first leg 4-2 in Russia, Zenit still needed to score twice more without reply to go through, but Jurgen Klopp’s side levelled on the night when captain Sebastian Kehl headed home a Marcel Schmelzer cross before the interval.
Substitute Jose Rondon stooped to head home and win the game for Zenit in the second half, and incoming coach Andre Villas-Boas will have drawn much encouragement as he prepares to take the reins in St Petersburg.