Van Persie saves United’s blushes
Dutch striker’s hat-trick takes English club into the Champions League quarter-finals while Dortmund also go through.
Robin van Persie’s hat-trick lifted the gloom surrounding Manchester United and manager David Moyes as the English side beat Olympiakos 3-0 to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit and reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
|Champions League quarter-finalists|
United, mounting a dismal defence of their Premier League title in Moyes’ first campaign since replacing Alex Ferguson, kept alive their last remaining hope of lifting a trophy this season.
Van Persie began the Old Trafford comeback with a 25th-minute penalty, awarded after he had been shoved in the back by Jose Holebas. The Dutchman levelled the tie on aggregate in first-half stoppage time, steering in Wayne Rooney’s cross and completed his hat-trick with a free kick six minutes after the break that left Olympiakos keeper Roberto rooted to the spot.
United last overturned a two-goal deficit in European competition 30 years ago when they came from two goals down to beat Barcelona in the European Cup Winners Cup quarter-finals.
Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund lost 2-1 to visitors Zenit St Petersburg but advanced 5-4 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals for the second successive season.
Dortmund, last year’s runners-up who won 4-2 in Russia in the first leg, fell a goal behind when Hulk thundered Zenit into the lead with an unstoppable long-range effort in the 16th minute. Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl settled the hosts’ nerves when he headed in the equaliser in the 38th minute.
But the visitors retook the lead in the 72nd minute through substitute Jose Rondon’s diving header. Dortmund held on in a scrappy finale and the 2-1 defeat was enough to send them into the last eight as the second German team along with Bayern Munich.