The 6 Best Manchester United v Liverpool Goals
Unfortunately I’m too young to have seen some of the great Manchester United vs. Liverpool derbies that preceded my birth, and such have seen only a one way power shift of footballing titans as the Red Mancs usurped their Scouse equivalent. Despite the league tables “never lying”, between the two I can remember heartache on both sides and in seemingly equal quantities, including a couple of cup final contests, hatricks, drubbings, sending offs, wonder goals and wonder saves. It’s goals that win games though so here’s a merry pootle down Premier League Memory Lane to look at some of the most memorable strikes between the two rivals separated by 33 miles, the River Mersey and a torrent of hatred.
Eric Cantona vs Liverpool FC - 1995/1996 FA Cup Final
Along with the cream suits sported by Messrs Redknapp and Fowler et al, this goal has gone down in folklore between the two sides. Two main reasons, the fact it was scored by the enigmatic Frenchman and that it was a strike that built on the emblematic characteristic coursing through United veins of nabbing a winner at the death. Technically it’s a great strike, the ball had taken a glance off Ian Rush on it’s way out (which was to be Rush’s last contribution in a Liverpool jersey), Cantona was back peddling when he hitting a bouncing ball in one motion, generating good power. Aesthetically the most impressive part was Ferguson’s dash from the dugout to touchline arms aloft, easily beating his significantly younger #2 Brian Kidd to the line by a length and a half. Wild scenes in Old Wembley as United secured the double, but still the suits are remembered every year in the showpiece final.
Dirk Kuyt (x3) vs Man Utd – 6th March 2011 Premier League.
The InDIRKfatigable Kuyt made good on all his industry and poaching ability to bag a ‘trick from a combined total of around 7yards to become the first Red to put three past Man United since Peter Beardsley in 1990. It was more the game than the quality of goals (although Kuyt’s first came from a piece of typically ball-magnetising play from Suarez), with lusty blows delivered left, right and centre. It was a hark back for those more inexperienced derbyites amongst us about what those bar-propping “experts” in your local describe as a “proper football match”. Carragher left his mark on Nani, Rafael returned the favour and in the end all 22 blokes stayed on the field and Liverpool had won a real war by way of Kuyt’s battling goals.
Michael Owen vs Man Utd – 2nd March 2003 League Cup Final
The second cup final to feature on the list and the goal comes way of a man who played for both sides, Michael Owen. The move started with the finisher-in-chief getting clattered by Rio Ferdinand after challenging a ball in the air, it broke for Dietmar Haaman, who must have had altitude sickness finding himself so far up the pitch. Luckily for the German there was the Chester Express hurtling over his right shoulder, Owen was played in, he streaked away and finished expertly with just a few minutes of regular time remaining. This time the Millenium Stadium, rather than Wembley, was the scene for Liverpool to exalt a form of cup final payback versus their oldest and most competitive of adversaries.
John O’Shea vs Liverpool, 3rd March 2007
Not the prettiest of matches, although that’s difficult when O’Shea, Neville and Riise rank amongst those taking the field, but it was a scrappy affair. Liverpool were facing Barcelona the Tuesday after this Premier League tie, United were staring down the barrel of losing top-spot. Pressure-cooker atmosphere ensued and the pan boiled over late on for Paul Scholes has he raised his hand to Xabi Alonso and was dismissed, Rooney was taken off injured thanks to another Carragher-special and the game was destined for a 0-0. United secured a free-kick near the left corner of the box, with Cristiano Ronaldo lining up to sweep it in-swinging towards Pepe Reina’s goal. The Portuguese arrowed it in and Reina palmed out into the path of John O’Shea, who side-footed giddily into the roof of the net before wheeling away. More hot-tin-roof styled celebrations from Sir Alex Ferguson as United strode on to claim the Premier League title.
Steven Gerrard vs Man United, 31st March 2001
Bale can trademark his celebration all he likes, personally I’d much rather have trademark goals like this to be amongst my legal property. Steven Gerrard just knows how to strike a ball with power. How he manages to get the ball to hit the net whilst still rising from 30yards out is anyones guess, and this was no exception. After busting from the centre of the park to latch onto the ball, the then baby-faced dynamo just bludgeoned the pig-skin with a fell swoop of his right peg. It flew past Fabian Barthez into the top left corner and was a breathtaking hammer, which truly announced Gerrard’s name into the long list of legends who’ve fought many of these Merseyside vs Manchester battles.
Eric Cantona vs Liverpool, October 1st 1995
The 6 Greatest Man United v Liverpool Goals Ever Scored
Personally this goal and performance simply had to be included, the mystique of the man who was Eric Cantona who pulled on his famous number 7 shirt for the first time after having spent eight months on the sidelines for a naughty jaunt into the Selhurst Park terraces. Seagulls followed sardines and his next action in the red of Man Utd was to be a totemic performance against the old enemy. Cantona setting up Nicky Butt to open the scoring after just two minutes, before Robbie Fowler struck twice in the second half to open up a lead. After 70minutes Giggs broke into the box and was brought down, Eric stepped up to convert the spot kick before semi-iconically (nearly everything he ever did was at least semi-iconic) and swinging around the stanchion and saluting the crowd who idolised him. He went on to inspire United to regaining the league title, having missed out last season due to being Cantona-less.
Notable Omissions: Riise freekick Nov, 2001. Diego Forlan x 2 Dec, 2002. Torres goal and performance at United, March 2009. Solksjaer last minute winner, FA Cup, 1999.