Manchester United have completed a stunning comeback to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the expense of Olympiakos with a 3-2 aggregate win.
David Moyes’ Red Devils were under extreme pressure going into the Round of 16 second leg following their 2-0 loss to the Greek champions in Athens last month which was compounded by the 3-0 Premier League defeat to Liverpool on Sunday.
It was an enormous night for the reigning English champions and thankfully for the fans, the players delivered to send the famous club through to the elite eight of European football for this season.
Robin van Persie was the star of the show, shrugging off outside criticism to notch up his maiden Champions League hat-trick, and first by a Dutchman in the knockout stages, as United drew level with Olympiakos by half-time before going ahead early in the second half.
The opening hit for Michel’s side came in the 25th minute when Kostas Manolas fouled van Persie in the area with the former Arsenal captain dusting himself off to convert from the spot.
In stoppage time of the first half, veteran Ryan Giggs played a brilliant through ball to release Wayne Rooney down the right and the England international responded well by producing an inviting low cross for van Persie to slot past visiting keeper Roberto with aplomb.
Just seven minutes into the second term and United had completed their comeback when Rooney and van Persie deliberated over a free-kick before the latter whipped in a dead ball which had Roberto stuck on his heels.
The goal sent the Red Devils faithful into raptures but there was still a mountain of work to do as just one OIympiakos goal would have sent the visitors through by virtue of the away goal rule.
In a blow for United, van Persie was stretchered off late in the contest after receiving a knee to the back of his leg which put a dampener on his brilliant performance.
In the end, however, Moyes’ men were able to thwart the advances of the Piraeus outfit to see themselves through to the final eight, joining reigning champions Bayern Munich, Spanish trio Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, Premier League rivals Chelsea, last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund and French giants Paris Saint-Germain. The draw for the quarter-finals will be made on March 21.
2013/14 UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 second leg
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