Date:Monday April 6 2009
The world is still singing the praises of Federico Macheda: the 17-year-old Italian broke Villa hearts virtue of a stunning winner in the 93rd minute at Old Trafford. Here, on this site we've been pondering whether it's a decisive goal in the title race - because United are no strangers to late goals which made a big impact on the Premiership.
Everyone remember Steve Bruce's now famous goal against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993 and particularly the absolutely crazy Brian Kidd celebrations (and the seven minutes of injury time of which much were made even though it was perfectly legitimate given the astonishing amount interruptions).
In later years there were important, crucial goals (Cantona's volley at Newcastle in 1996, the third, clinching goal at Liverpool in 1997, Andy Cole's lob against Spurs in 1999, Giggs' equaliser at Highbury in 1993) which paved the way for more league titles for United - but neither were such classic late goals.
However, in 2007 we can point to TWO in succession: Ronaldo's fantastic solo at Fulham and O'Shea smash-and-grab raid at Liverpool. For obvious reasons the latter is remembered more fondly and indeed that unlikely win (and the comeback against Blackburn and Everton) gave the strength for the troops to carry on and get that first title in four years.
Mention could go to Chris Eagles' stunner at Goodison in the same year though that was merely a clinching goal - but in terms of drama even that goal was nothing compared to Tevez's equaliser at Blackburn last season.
If anyone has forgotten: we had battered Rovers in the second half but Friedel had refused to be beaten and had produced some absolutely world-class saves. But in the 88th minute he had no answer when Nani's corner was flicked on by Scholes and Carlos Tevez headed home from close range to ensure his name will always be remembered fondly at Old Trafford (there are plenty of other reasons for that, of course). That goal meant we could lose at Chelsea and still stay ahead on goal difference - and we wrapped up the title by beating West Ham and Wigan in the final two games.
Now, Macheda's goal could easily have a similar impact, for it came on the back of two defeats, when a third was looking likely for long periods... Indeed it is worthy of comparison with Bruce's goal, mainly because many questioned the five minutes of stoppage time which was signalled by the assistant referee - though Macheda scored his goal at 92.04 so the five (actually it was six) minutes of added time merely provided a chance for Villa to equalise. They didn't, thankfully, and we might remember Macheda's goal as the one that got United back on track and won us the title.
Date:Monday April 6 2009
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