Van Persie's hat trick sends United into quarterfinals
Manchester, England (SportsNetwork.com) - Robin Van Persie netted a hat trick on Wednesday at Old Trafford as Manchester United rallied from a two-goal deficit to earn a 3-2 aggregate victory over Olympiakos and advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League in dramatic fashion.
United manager David Moyes had been feeling some heat coming into Wednesday's clash following a tepid display by his club in a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of bitter rivals Liverpool last Sunday.
And after suffering a 2-0 first-leg loss to Olympiakos in Greece, all the pressure was on United to come away with a famous European victory. The Red Devils delivered in a big way.
United had their tails up from the outset and opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Van Perise was clattered in the penalty area by Olympiakos defender Jose Holebas, resulting in a penalty kick.
The Dutchman stepped up and rocketed his strike into the side netting to make it 2-1 on aggregate for the visitors.
The hosts then pulled level on aggregate at 2-2 on the stroke of halftime when Wayne Rooney collected a long ball on the right flank from Ryan Giggs and sent a low cross into the area that was fired home first-time by Van Persie.
United then took the aggregate 3-2 lead five minutes into the second half when Van Perise ripped a low free kick from outside the box that caught Olympiakos goalkeeper Roberto leaning and the ball nestled into the lower left hand corner to complete the comeback.
Olympiakos pushed numbers forward in the final minutes knowing that one goal from the visiting side would send them through on away goals, but the Greeks were unable to find the goal as United snuck out with a massive result.
Also in the Champions League on Wednesday, Borussia Dortmund advanced to the quarterfinals with a 5-4 aggregate victory over Zenit St. Petersburg, despite falling to a 2-1 second-leg defeat courtesy of a 73rd-minute winner from Jose Rondon.
03/19 17:44:41 ET