MANCHESTER UNITED HAD to come from two goals down if they were to progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Could they do it?
Manchester United 3-0 Olympiakos (3-2 agg)
19.22 – Hello and welcome to our coverage of tonight’s crunch Champions League tie.
First off here’s the team news:
Manchester United: De Gea, Da Silva, Jones, Ferdinand, Evra, Welbeck, Giggs, Carrick, Valencia, Rooney, van Persie.
Olympiakos: Roberto; Maniatis, Holebas, Manolas, Marcano; Leandro Salino, N’Dinga, Peréz, David Fuster; Campbell, Domínguez.
19.27 – What do people think of the United team? Giggs and Welbeck a surprise? Ferdinand too (though David Moyes says Vidic has a groin strain)?
In other news, that banner still hangs at the Stretford End:
Source: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images
19.40 – Sky Sports currently doing a montage of great Manchester United comebacks but there seems to be a lot of pessimism around from United fans.
By the way, we’ll also keep you up to date with all the action from Dortmund’s tie tonight.
The Yellow Wall looks class as always:
19.46 – Olympiakos get us under way at Old Trafford, playing from right to left and Valencia gives away an early free.
19.48 – It’s been all Olympiakos in the opening 90 seconds and Phil Jones gives away a free kick in a dangerous position. However, it comes to nothing and United win a throw in.
19.50 – First chance of the game, Oympiakos’ Holebas whips in a cross from the left but United scramble it clear. Difficult to tell at the moment which side need the goals tonight.
19.53 – Free kick to Manchester United after a clumsy challenge from Manolas brings down Welbeck which results in the game’s first yellow card.
Wayne Rooney’s free is punched away spectacularly but never really caused much trouble.
19.55 – After the Rooney free, Valencia was involved in a clash of heads. Looks like he came out the worst of it:
19.57 – United have their first real chance of the game. Rooney’s ball from the right is a good one but van Persie just can’t connect with it.
In house-keeping news, Dominguez has picked up Olympiakos’ second yellow while Michael Carrick has earned United’s first.
It’s been 12 minutes of end-to-end action so far.
20.00 – Danny Welbeck wins the game’s first corner.
Rooney’s cross causes some confusion but it’s eventually cleared.
Down the other end, the visitors waste a great chance after Joel Campbell creates the space only to see Perez blaze the ball over from seven yards.
20.05 – Rooney hits the foot of the post after a great cross from Giggs.
United were criticised for sending in a million or so crosses against Fulham earlier this season but it looks a tactic that could bring them some joy tonight.
Twenty minutes gone, still scoreless.
20.08 – Penalty!
The referee says van Persie is bundled over by Holebas and it looks a clear cut decision.
20.09 – GOAL – van Persie, 24mins
The Dutchman makes no mistake from the spot and United have the early-ish goal they wanted.
20.15 – Half an hour gone and this game is still firmly in the balance. United do look the better side but Olympiakos have not been without their chances.
20.20 – Another United corner, another United chance.
This time Roberto makes an excellent save from Patrice Evra.
20.22 – If you haven’t seen Hulk’s screamer in tonight’s other Champions League game, we’ve got you covered:
20.25 – Brilliant double save from David De Gea — first from Fuster and then Dominguez – keeps Olympiakos at bay. Incredible stuff from the Spaniard.
20.29 – Down the other end, United appeal for their second penalty after Maniatis appears to have brought down Valencia in the area but the referee waves it away.
20.31 – GOAL – van Persie, 45 minutes
And United are level in the tie. Rooney with the ball in from the right and van Persie with the finish through the ‘keeper’s legs.
With a full half to go, the hosts have wiped out their deficit.
20.32 – HALF-TIME: And the half-time whistle goes. Decent game so far.
So…. how do you see this tie going then?
20.39 – Darron Gibson isn’t happy with the performance of some United players in the wake of De Gea’s double save:
Source: Darron Gibson/Twitter
20.48 – And United kick off the second half. Worth pointing out it’s still imperative the home side keep a clean sheet if they wish to progress.
A goal for the visitors will mean David Moyes’ side would have to score another two.
20.51 – Perez wastes another chance for Olympiakos but it wasn’t anything like as gilt-edged as his earlier opportunity.
Valencia’s eye continues to look gross.
20.54 – Goal – van Persie, 51 mins
The Dutchman has his third of the game with a brilliant free kick that leaves the Olympiakos keeper flat-footed.
United won the free on the edge of the area after a well-worked move almost set Danny Welbeck loose.
20.56 – So close from Olympiakos as Dominguez’s effort is deflected just wide. Heart palpitations there if you are a Manchester United fan.
20.58 – We’ve the first change of the game as Nelson Valdez comes on for Perez.
21.00 – David Moyes will be happy with how accurate his side has been in front of goal tonight:
21.01 – Interestingly, we’ve seen none of the usual close-ups of Alex Ferguson tonight but I’m sure that will change if the visitors find the net.
21.03 – Patrice Evra has become the latest player to pick up a booking and he’ll miss the first leg of the quarter-final should United get through.
21.05 – The home side have been noticeably quieter since their third goal. With Olympiakos needing just one goal to go through — and Dominguez wasted another half-chance — it’s a dangerous tactic.
21.07 – Here’s the free-kick that gave van Persie his third goal:
21.08 – Another decent chance for Olympiakos but De Gea is there once again to save the hosts.
21.15 – Olympiakos definitely growing into this game — they’ve little choice really — and you can’t help but feel United are sitting on this lead. A dangerous tactic.
21.19 – One of the great moustaches in sport has just entered the field of play.
Take a bow Paulo Machado:
21.24 – The crowd starting to get very tense at Old Trafford and United continue to protect their slender lead as Fletcher replaces Welbeck.
Vergos comes on for Fuster for the visitors.
Nine minutes left.
21.26 – Rooney with United’s best chance in an age after a fine pass from Feltcher but the England striker blazes wide.
21.29 – Another chance for Olympiakos but Phil Jones throws his body in the way and heads clear.
De Gea fists clear the resulting corner but the visitors can’t find the clinical ball.
21.33 – Bad news for United as van Persie lays prone on the floor before being stretchered off. After his performance tonight his side won’t want to see him out for any length of time.
Even more worrying — if you’re a United fan — is the sight of Marouane Fellaini coming on to replace him.
21.36 – United trying to waste time in the corner as three of the five minutes of injury time has been played.
Olympiakos break away but Joel Campbell’s cross/shot is easily gathered by De Gea.
21.38 – PEEP…PEEP….PEEP
And that’s it from Old Trafford. United have done exactly what was required and beaten Olympiakos 3-0 on the night to go through 3-2 on aggregate.
They may have got defensive once Robin van Persie’s hat-trick goal went in but they were good value for their win.
21.42 – And that’s it from me. As usual thanks for keeping me company. We’ll have a full report from tonight’s game up shortly as well as a wrap of this evening’s other game.