Manchester United the comeback kings

Javier Hernandez volleys a shot on goal for Manchester United against Aston Villa
Javier Hernandez stars in Manchester United’s latest comeback against Aston Villa

Author: Stretford_End

Manchester United stunned Aston Villa with a dramatic fightback from two nil down, to win an epic clash 3-2. We’ve been here before. Aston Villa have been here before. The words “comeback” and “last minute” are usually associated with Manchester United matches. Over the years, rival fans have pointed to “luck” and “favouritism” from officials. If it happened a couple of times, you could maybe classify it as luck – whens its been happening for over twenty years, you have to put it down to sheer determination and a never say die attitude.

We’ve seen last gasp winners, such as the Michael Owen strike to win the Manchester derby in 2009 or the Eric Cantona FA Cup winner back in 1996 – but United’s stubbornness to never throw in the towel has to be a quality instilled from the boss – Sir Alex Ferguson. Here we look at some of the greatest comebacks over the past twenty years and welcome you to share your experiences and views. This also includes fans who have been on the receiving end of a comeback!

2012/13 – Comebacks

So far, United have comeback (and won) in the following fixtures:

Are United making more errors this season to go behind in the first place or is the self belief ever more so now? Ryan Giggs has spoken about how Robin van Persie has given Manchester United a lift since he signed from Arsenal in the summer but United have always had that belief that a game is never over until the final whistle is blown. You won’t get nonsense cliched rubbish here. Nope. Just a discussion about some of the great comebacks over the seasons.

When it looked as if United were down and out, someone stands up and is counted. Of course you need luck in football and United have had their fair share, but as Thomas Jefferson once said “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”. This is surely something that Sir Alex adheres to?

Some of the comebacks

Manchester United (Bruce 86, 90) 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Never has an injury to a referee been so crucial to the outcome of a fixture, which of course led to a mini pitch invasion from Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd. Steve Bruce’s two headers won the game for United following a John Sheridan penalty, that put Wednesday in the lead. United had drawn 3-3 with Wednesday earlier in the season, which saw Cantona score the winner – but nothing compared to this for drama. United went onto win the league title for the first time since 1967 and Wednesday lost in both domestic cup finals to Arsenal.

Steve Bruce scores two vital headers as United beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1

Manchester United (Hughes 120) 1-1 Oldham Athletic
United had already lost 3-1 to Aston Villa in the League Cup final earlier in the year and looked set to be knocked out of the FA Cup at the semi final stage by relegation threatened Oldham, who were leading 1-0 in extra time. Enter Mark Hughes, one of the strongest and best strikers of a football United had seen. Hughes scored some remarkable goals in his career, but this one helped United to a 1-1 draw, before hammering Oldam 4-1 in the replay at Maine Road. United went onto win the 1994 league and cup double, the first in United’s history.

Mark Hughes volley against Oldham

Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool (Yorke 88, Solskjaer 90)
Not for the first time this season, United’s Norwegian striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would steal the show for United. He would score four goals against Nottingham Forest (having come on as a substitute) and of course, score that famous goal in the Nou Camp. Michael Owen had given Liverpool a first half lead and United left it very late with Dwight Yorke, a signing from Aston Villa the previous summer, scoring with two minutes left on the clock and then Solskjaer would win it for United in the final seconds of the match.
Manchester United snatch a last gasp winner against Liverpool

Juventus 2-3 Manchester United (Keane 24, Yorke 34, Cole 85)
Despite the epic night in Barcelona that lay ahead, some Reds believe this was one of the greatest games of all time involving United. Filippo Inzaghi, who Sir Alex Ferguson would later remark was ‘born offside’, struck an early brace that gave Juventus a 3-1 lead on aggregate follow Conte’s effort in the first leg that was equaled by a late Ryan Giggs goal. Roy Keane’s heroic performance, although played down by the man who would never play in a Champions League final, was sensational and the skipper got United back in the game with a near post header from a Beckham corner. Yorke scored the equalizer ten minutes before half time before a late Andy Cole goal gave United a historic win on Italian turf.

Roy Keane’s header that got United back into the game

Manchester United (Sheringham 90, Solskjaer 90) 2-1 Bayern Munich
“Football, bloody hell!” is etched in United folklore, along with Solskjaer’s knee slide to win last European Cup of the twentieth century and United’s second overall. Bayern were the far better side on the night and the absence of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes was visible for all to see. Elber had scored a very late winner in Munich when the sides met in the group stages, when United had been the better side – so, you never know what football can throw up! Mehmet Scholl and Carsten Jancker hit the woodwork, influential midfielder Lothar Matthaus was too busy celebrating before Teddy Sheringham and Solskjaer won the game for United.

The 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich

Tottenham Hotspur 3-5 Manchester United
“I’m not saying exactly what I said to them at half time – why am I always asked that?” Sir Alex Ferguson was quoted as saying after the game, but I think we can all agree that the so called hairdryer treatment was in full force! Summer signings Seba Veron, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Laurent Blanc were on the scoresheet along with Andy Cole and David Beckham. United would eventually go on to lose the title to Arsenal, but no one can forget this incredible game – where United trailed 3-0 at half time.
Manchester United win an epic encounter away at Spurs

Aston Villa 2-3 Manchester United
This isn’t the first time Aston Villa will feature in this list with a 3-2 scoreline! United’s FA Cup campaign didn’t go very far in 2001/02, but no one will forget Ruud van Nistelrooy’s brace and Solskjaer’s strike following a comical Phil Neville own goal. The winner was something Reds would see a lot of over the next few seasons, with van Nistelrooy playing on the shoulder of the last man, rounding the keeper (who happened to be ex-Red Peter Schmeichel)before slotting home.
Ruud van Nistelrooy wins the tie for United

Manchester United 3-2 Aston Villa
Manchester United had lost 4-1 to Liverpool and 2-0 to Fulham (which Rooney was sent off in) – so United needed a win in the match against Aston Villa to push on for an 18th title. Villa had led 2-1 before Ronaldo equalised in the 80th minute, before an unknown substitute entered the fold. Federico Macheda may never live up to expectations following what happened, but we’ll never forget that Cruyff turn and shot as the Stretford End erupted into euphoric celebration. United had beaten Villa 3-2 and went onto win the title.

Macheda scores against Aston Villa in the 3-2 victory at Old Trafford

Manchester United 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur
In the same season, United again looked vulnerable as the finish line was on the horizon. The North London side took a two nil lead through Bent and Modric, before being handed a controversial penalty, which Ronaldo converted. From that moment the floodgates opened. Rooney got two, Ronaldo got another and Dimitar Berbatov score the fifth. Both manager’s stated that the penalty was the turning point of the game, but Sir Alex – as he would so do on many occasions – pointed to a previous fixture where United were not given a penalty. Not that this helped Harry Redknapp!
United comeback to beat Spurs 5-2 at Old Trafford

There have been many instances of where United have trailed in a match to come back and win the tie. United were 2-0 down at Bloomfield road to win 3-2 in 2010, whilst Ryan Giggs scored United’s equalizer in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal at Highbury. Also, Andy Cole’s winner against Spurs in the final fixture of the 98/99 season was pivotal! There are many great comebacks over the years and we welcome you to share your views in the comments box below.

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