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Brilliant van Persie hat-trick keeps United's season alive

By Robert Jones

Robin van Persie rescued Manchester United's season with a stunning hat-trick – but David Moyes denied the Dutchman's heroics had saved him as well.

United achieved what most people had thought beyond them – coming back from a 2-0 first-leg deficit to defeat Olympiakos 3-0 and make it through to the Champions League quarter-finals.

It brought back memories of some of the great European nights at Old Trafford although United will now have to put a run of results together to get the critics off their backs.

Manager Moyes, under intense pressure following the first-leg defeat in Greece and the abject surrender against Liverpool last weekend, said he was confident that he'd have been given more time, even if last night's result had gone against United.

"People will see this as a turning point in my career, but I don't see it like that all," he said.

"I see myself at Manchester United for a very long time. This is a big job and there are a lot of things I want to do. The one thing the players did show tonight is a great big heart.

"I don't feel any pressure from inside the club. The pressure has come from the media. It is a big job – and maybe harder than I first expected when I came in."

Moyes acknowledged there have been many false "turning points" in what has still been a dismal season. The 5-0 triumph at Bayer Leverkusen and the victory over Arsenal in November were not followed up. On Tuesday they face Manchester City at Old Trafford.

"I know we have got a lot to do. But we are still in the Champions League and looking forward to the draw."

The only minus was the sight of Van Persie being taken off on a stretcher moments from the end, although his manager suggested he might be fit for the Manchester derby. "It does not look that bad," he said. "It is a knock on the back of his knee."

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