MANCHESTER (Sporting Alert) — Robin van Persie scored a match-winning hat-trick and goalkeeper David de Gea pulled off some fine saves to guide Manchester United through to the Champions League quarter-finals with victory over Olympiakos.
Down 2-0 from the first leg and needing to score goals and stop Olympiakos from adding to their tally, David Moyes’ men did just that as they won 3-0 (Agg 3-2) on a stunning night of action at Old Trafford.
“The way the players responded after Sunday [pleased me most],” Moyes said after the same. “I told the players on Monday morning we have to win 3-0 to give the fans something back.
“They have been incredible and they deserved it because we’ve not given them many good nights.”
Van Persie opened the contest with a goal from the penalty spot to give Manchester United the lead, before the Dutchman added another just before the half-time whistle.
The striker then converted a free-kick in the 52nd to give the English Premier League side a commanding 3-0 lead in the match before he was stretched off late in the second half with a muscle injury to his hamstring.
It was Van Persie’s first ever Champions League hat-trick.
“He was great, not many people score a hat-trick in the Champions League,” said Moyes.
Returning for the first time since late January, Ryan Giggs, who helped to setup the second goal for the Red Devils, was also very impressive, playing the entire 90 minutes and Moyes was full of praises for the United legend.
“It’s incredible the amount of games he’s played in the Champions League. He was fantastic, the passes he made for the two goals, his general football, he’s a freak,” Moyes said.
“Ryan is not going to go on forever so we have to find the new Ryan Giggs and use other players but we needed his experience tonight.”
It was also a very good night for Spanish goalkeeper De Gea, who pulled off some stunning saves to help his team booked a last eight place.
Manchester United joined fellow EPL side Chelsea, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid and Paris St-Germain.