Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund wrapped up the last two available places in Friday’s Champions League quarter-final draw on Wednesday’s. United did the improbable, beating Olympiacos 3-0 at home to win 3-2 on aggregate. Meanwhile last season’s runners-up Dortmund progressed despite losing at home to Zenit.
It was a night of high drama at Old Trafford as United advanced to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2011. Pre-game everyone had written the obituary of David Moyes as the last time United came back from 2-0 down in the first leg of a European tie was 30 years ago when Bryan Robson inspired the team to a 3-0 win over a Barcelona side that included Diego Maradona. Tonight it was the turn of another United icon – Ryan Giggs – to boss the game.
Giggs was the architect of the breakthrough goal in the 25th minute, when he put a wonderful pass from just inside the Olympiacos half on to the chest of Van Persie inside the area, who was bundled over by José Holebas, Van Persie buried the resulting penalty past Roberto.
Then United got back on level terms on aggregate right before half-time when Giggs pass picked out Rooney, whose low cross from the right was swept in by Van Persie. Within six minutes of the restart, the comeback, and Van Persie’s hat-trick, was complete. After Danny Welbeck was tripped on the edge of the box, RVP lifted his set piece over the wall and beyond the flatfooted Roberto.
But 3-0 up, United sat back and tried to defend their lead and that almost cost them the tie as David De Gea needed to make good saves from Fuster and Domínguez to give David Moyes his biggest victory in Europe.
In Germany it was not quite as dramatic as Dortmund advanced 5-4 on aggregate despite losing 2-1 at home to Zenit St. Petersburg. Hulk’s powerful opener gave the Russian side hope theta they could overcome their 4-2 first-leg deficit, but Sebastian Kehl’s first goal in 30 Champions League appearances left them once again requiring three goals.
Zenit did manage to pull one back from a José Rondón’s diving header, but it was too little, too late as Dortmund progressed.