UCL Recap, Highlights: Van Persie Hat-Trick Saves United, Dortmund Lose, But Still Advance

IMAGE, MANUTD.COM

BY MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Manchester United were staring down the barrel of an exit from the Champions League facing a two-goal Olympiakos advantage.

Then, Robin van Persie happened.

The Dutch striker’s hat-trick saw United reach the quarterfinals after a 3-0 victory (3-2 aggregate).

Although van Persie left the match on a stretcher, he caused Olympiakos pain throughout the match, scoring three goals on three shots on target. Another player who deserves a lot of credit is Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadoran midfielder took a nasty knock resulting in a blackened and swollen eye, but he remained on the pitch until being subbed off in the 77th minute.

It was the Greek champions that caused self-inflicted errors handing United a lifeline to the next round. Ryan Giggs, who looked about half of his 40 years, was one of the catalyst’s in United’s victory. His lofted ball towards van Persie saw Olympiakos defender Jose Holebas clatter into the Dutch forward from behind in the box. It was rightfully ruled a foul and van Persie slotted the ball home on the spot kick in the 25th minute.

Olympiakos continued to cause United some problems at the back, even after giving up a goal, creating goal scoring chances. However, it was United scoring a second just before halftime that leveled United on aggregate score. It was van Persie again as Wayne Rooney‘s low cross picked him out to finish easily from close range.

It only took five minutes into the second half for the Red Devils to go ahead — and it was another error by the visitors that contributed to the goal. Olympiakos keeper Roberto Gago stood rooted to the spot on van Persie’s free-kick as it curled over the wall and into the net.

It wasn’t the best struck free-kick and Gago really should have done better. Instead, it pushed United ahead. The Red Devils were able to blank Olympiakos amid a nervy stoppage time, to advance to the next round.

Here are your highlights:

Other Champions League Results

1. Winning In Defeat– Borussia Dortmund posted four away goals against Zenit St. Petersburg and it was enough to advance — even in defeat at home. Dortmund head to the quarterfinals after a 2-1 loss, but moving to the next round with a 5-4 aggregate score.

Zenit had a lead in the second leg after just 16 minutes through an absolutely fantastic strike from Hulk. The Brazilian forward turned, drove towards the center of the pitch and unleashed a fierce shot from distance past the Dortmund keeper.

Dortmund would find an equalizer seven minutes before halftime. Sebastian Kehl rose and headed a Marcel Scmelzer cross into the ground and towards goal. Zenit keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev got a hand to it, but only guided it into the net.

Zenit would take the lead late as substitute Jose Rondon came up with a header of his own in the 73rd minute, after finding himself unmarked in the box.

Although Zenit were able to be victorious in Germany, they are left to rue a poor defensive display in the first leg. Dortmund will head to the quarterfinal as they look to return to the final, where they lost last year to Bayern Munich.