Van Persie hat-trick fires United to Champions League comeback

MANCHESTER, England, (Reuters) – Robin van Persie’s hat-trick lifted the gloom surrounding Manchester United and manager David Moyes as the English side beat Olympiakos Piraeus 3-0 to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit and reach the Champions League quarter-finals yesterday.

United, mounting a dismal defence of their Premier League title in Moyes’s 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 Van Persie 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.

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