United 3 - 0 Olympiacos
Rafael Rio Jones Evra
Valencia(Young) Carrick Roo Giggs
That's the kind of performance we have been yearning for all season long. The passion and desire shown by the players today was a joy to see. They went out there to get the result and they did exactly that. Yes, we were playing Olympiacos and yes, they're miles away from the elite of European football BUT we were playing an Olympiacos side that was leading by two goals. That's a pretty comfortable lead and any team chasing a game is prone to being caught on the counter attack. One goal by Olympiacos would have ended the tie so it was a pretty delicate game for us and our players played it out well. Granted, the Greeks did produce some fine chances and if it wasn't for the brilliant De Gea, I don't think we would be looking forward to a couple more European nights....so well played the Spaniard!
RVP reminded us what he's capable of when he's actually interested in the game. I thought this year our Dutch striker looked a tad disinterested at times so it was a pretty pleasing sight seeing RVP chasing balls and scoring goals. He got an injury for his troubles and I hope he gets back as soon as possible. The van Persie we saw tonight is a player who's capable of giving sleepless nights to any defender in the world. Well played.
Anybody who scores a hat-trick merits the man of the match award but my man of the match is either Rooney or Giggsy. What the latter did is nothing short of unbelievable. He produced the first two goals and played the whole 90 minutes. We're talking of a 40 year old playing in the latter stages of the biggest competition in Europe. That's nothing short of phenomenal, although, if you look at it from a different perspective, you can say that it's quite sad that we rely on a 40 year old to produce a spark in the middle of the park. Roo was also excellent tonight. He ran his socks off from the first minute up until the last and also produced an assist. He's been our shining light during a pretty mediocre season and he did not disappoint today. That was a captain's performance and that's exactly what he'll be next year; our captain.
Welbeck, Valencia and Jones should also get a mention. Welbeck was a constant nuisance for the Greeks' defence, Valencia played through the pain barrier and had a very good game (I think he should consider playing with an eyepatch for the remainder of the season, he clearly plays better with one eye) and Jones was a rock at the heart of our defence. The Greeks did open our defence on some occasions but considering we were chasing a particular score, I thought our overall defensive performance was good BUT it could have been better.
We're now amongst the last 8 teams in this competition. If I'm honest, each and every team in the draw is better than us so I'm not really bothered who we get as long as our players play with the same grit they showed today. It will be a very tough task playing against any of those 7 teams but as long as we're still in it, we should give it a real go.
P.S. I cracked a smile when I saw a beaming David Moyes heading towards the tunnel. The man is under intense pressure and this win will make the constant criticism ease a bit. I've almost been feeling sorry for him but I've never lost my faith in him. As long as he's our manager, I'll always support him.