Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Alex Ferguson: Great games

(FILE PHOTO) Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has announced that he will retire at the end of the season after 26 years in charge. ABERDEEN, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 12:  Sir Alex Ferguson looks on during the pre-season friendly, match between Aberdeen and Manchester United at Pittodrie Stadium on July 12, 2008 in Aberdeen, Scotland.  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has announced that he will retire at the end of the season after 26 years in charge. ABERDEEN, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 12: Sir Alex Ferguson looks on during the pre-season friendly, match between Aberdeen and Manchester United at Pittodrie Stadium on July 12, 2008 in Aberdeen, Scotland. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
File photo dated 11/05/2008 of Manchester United players are lead out by manager Alex Ferguson to collect their trophy following the Barclays Premier League match at JJB Stadium, Wigan
File photo dated 11/05/2008 of Manchester United players are lead out by manager Alex Ferguson to collect their trophy following the Barclays Premier League match at JJB Stadium, Wigan
File photo dated 26/05/99 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with the UEFA Champions League Trophy following victory over Bayern Munich
File photo dated 26/05/99 of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with the UEFA Champions League Trophy following victory over Bayern Munich

Sir Alex Ferguson has plenty of memorable matches as Manchester United manager. We pick out the best of them.

Man Utd 2 Barcelona 1, May 1991

Following the end of a five-year ban on English clubs for hooliganism, United made the most of their return to European football to claim the Cup Winners' Cup by beating mighty Barca in a Rotterdam decider. The Red Devils went into the game as underdogs but Mark Hughes, who had been discarded by the Catalan giants after an unsuccessful spell at the Nou Camp, stunned his former club with a second-half brace and United hung on for victory despite Ronald Koeman's late free-kick.

Man Utd 2 Sheff Wed 1, April 1993

After finishing second best behind Leeds the previous year, United were battling it out for top spot with Aston Villa towards the end of the inaugural Premier League campaign and trailed the Owls with time running out. However, Steve Bruce headed in an equaliser with four minutes left on the clock and then nodded in a dramatic winner six minutes into stoppage time to spark an ecstatic on-pitch celebration from Brian Kidd and give the Red Devils the impetus to end a 26-year wait for title joy.

Man Utd 4 Chelsea 0, May 1994

Having retained the Premier League crown by an impressive eight points, United became only the fourth team of the 20th century to do the Double when crushing the Blues in the FA Cup final. The scores were still level on the hour but then Eric Cantona hit home a couple of penalties and Hughes also netted in a devastating 20-minute spell to put Ferguson's side in total control before Brian McClair completed the rout late on.

Man Utd 2 Arsenal 1, April 1999

One of the all-time great FA Cup matches took place at Villa Park and ended with United booking a place in the final after extra-time thanks to a brilliant solo effort from Ryan Giggs. David Beckham had put the Red Devils ahead with a long-range strike, but Dennis Bergkamp equalised for the Gunners and they looked to hold the upper hand when Roy Keane was sent off. However, Peter Schmeichel saved a last-minute spot-kick from Bergkamp and then Giggs intercepted a Patrick Vieira pass before racing 50 metres and past three defenders to net the winner in extra-time.

Juventus 2 Man Utd 3, April 1999

United went into the second leg of this Champions League semi-final all square at 1-1 and looked set to suffer Turin heartbreak when trailing 2-0 early on through a Pippo Inzaghi brace. However, Keane proved a captain marvel for the Red Devils to inspire a famous comeback, heading in from a corner to give his side hope and then inspiring Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole to book a place in the final of Europe's elite club competition for the first time since 1968.

Man Utd 2 Bayern Munich 1, May 1999

Sadly Keane and Paul Scholes had to sit out this Champions League decider through suspension and their presence in the heart of midfield was sorely missed as United fell behind to a Mario Basler free-kick. Bayern dominated for long periods and should have added to their lead several times, notably when Mehmet Scholl hit the crossbar. However, United drew on their never-say-die attitude to stay in contention before an amazing last two minutes saw goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turn the tie on its head and spark wild celebrations from the huge English contingent at the Nou Camp.

Man Utd 6 Arsenal 1, February 2001

The Gunners were runners-up behind United for three straight seasons and would win the title in two of the next three campaigns, but on this occasion the Red Devils were simply a cut above their big rivals of that era. Thierry Henry had equalised an early Yorke goal after 14 minutes but then the Trinidad & Tobago striker completed his hat-trick soon after, while Keane and Solskjaer helped put the hosts 5-1 up at the break. Despite cruising through the second period, Sheringham made it six late on to put United 16 points clear at the top of the table and on course for a title hat-trick.

Man Utd 1 Chelsea 1 May 2008

United gave Ferguson a second Champions League trophy by beating the Blues 6-5 on penalties on a rain-soaked Moscow night. Cristiano Ronaldo had headed the Red Devils in front but Frank Lampard's equaliser just before the interval proved enough to send the game into extra-time. Chelsea had Didier Drogba sent off following a mass fracas but still had a chance to prevail after Ronaldo missed his spot-kick. However, John Terry hit the post with his penalty and when Edwin van der Sar saved from Nicolas Anelka in a sudden death shoot-out the Red Devils celebrated an emotional success.

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