David Moyes declared Robin van Persie one of the top goalscorers in the world after the Dutchman’s treble defeated Olympiakos and sent Manchester United into the Champions League quarterfinals.
And he allayed fears that the United top scorer, who was stretchered off in the closing minutes, faces a long spell on the sidelines by describing his knee problem as “a knock”.
Van Persie got all three goals as United, who trailed 2-0 after their first-leg defeat in Greece, won 3-0 to progress to the last eight. The former Arsenal captain netted a penalty and a free kick, either side of a goal supplied by strike partner Wayne Rooney.
And manager Moyes said: “To score a hat-trick in Champions League football is a big thing. I think there are only certain players in the world who are capable of it and Robin is one of them. Obviously he gets his penalty kick and he scored a great free kick.
"Wayne did brilliantly for him for the second goal. It’s great he got a hat trick, he is a top player and he showed that tonight.”
Van Persie has endured an injury-hit season but Moyes is confident his 17-goal top scorer should remain available for selection.
He added: “I don’t think he is too bad. He has got a knock behind his knee. We will assess it in the morning [on Thursday]. He has got a knee in the back of his knee.”
Moyes also singled out Ryan Giggs for praise after the 40-year-old, who started for the first time since January, starred in the centre of midfield.
He added: “His two passes made two of the goals. His passing was fantastic and his all-round play was very good. He defies his age. He is a great player. Everyone who has been at Manchester United knows he is a great player.”
Moyes explained Giggs’ recent omission by adding: “I thought he is 40-years-old and I need to be looking to the future. I have been trying to give everyone opportunities. Tactically I needed him to play a certain role which he knew and he understands with his experience and he carried it out perfectly as well as assisting in the goals.”
United had lost 3-0 to Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday and Moyes was delighted with the response he got from his players. He 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."