MANCHESTER: Manchester United manager David Moyes turned his focus from the void to the pinnacle when he envisaged winning the Champions League after the turnaround victory over Olympiacos.
United won 3-0 at Old Trafford with a hat-trick from Robin Van Persie for a 3-2 aggregate success after a dismal two-goal defeat in Greece a fortnight ago in the second round opener.
The draw for the quarter-finals takes place in Nyon tomorrow and Moyes said: “We probably now will go into it as underdogs in a lot of the games. Hopefully we can do it, I don’t see any reason why not. I think this club is capable of it.
“If we play to our capabilities which we have not done too often then I think we will be a match for any team.”
Borussia Dortmund are in the last eight with United after a 5-4 aggregate win over Zenit St Petersburg; so too are Spanish trio Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, as well as Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
Forgotten, suddenly, was last weekend’s 3-0 home defeat by Liverpool.
Moyes added: “After Sunday’s performance and result we needed to bounce back and I thought we did it with style. We played very well and deservedly got our victory.
“It was a really good result in Europe. We came from two goals behind. We hadn’t played well in the first leg but we put it right. We have got ourselves another two games in the Champions League. It is something we will really look forward to.”
Moyes has allayed fears that Robin van Persie faces a long spell on the sidelines by describing his late knee injury as merely “a knock.”
United thus emulated their achievement of 30 years ago when they managed to overhaul a two-goal first leg defeat, against Diego Maradona’s Barcelona in the old Cup-winners Cup.
On that occasion United were confident of meeting the challenge. This time the mood was very different after not only a bad result but a poor team performance in last Sunday’s 3-0 home defeat by Liverpool in the Premier League.
Manager David Moyes, before the game, expressed confidence that he and the Glazer family were united in their long-term vision. This will clearly mean spending more than £100m in the summer to fill glaring holes in the squad.
The dearth of in-form talent was illustrated by the fact that Moyes recalled 40-year-old Ryan Giggs in midfield in an attacking line-up with Juan Mata ineligible. Giggs was playing his 140th Champions League game, only two games short of equalling Raul’s record of 142 appearances in the competition.
United dominated from the start and took the lead after 25 minutes when Van Persie was pushed in the back by Jode Holebas. The centre-forward got up to slip the spotkick past uncertain keeper Roberto. It was his 15th goal in all competitions this season.
United had David De Gea to thank for preserving that lead, however. In the 38th minute Olympiacos counter-attacked and the Spanish keeper made a remarkable double save from close-range efforts by David Fuster and Alejandro Dominguez.
The Greeks were punished for that failure when Van Persie struck United’s second from close range on a right-wing assist from Wayne Rooney. It was the perfect way for United to end the first half.
They began the second half in similar decisive style as Van Persie completed his hat-trick from a free kick after a foul on Danny Welbeck. Van Persie was not complaining now, as he did after the first leg, that his team-mates were crowding his space in and around the penalty box.