By Ollie Cranham-Young
- Some of Manchester United’s greatest moments have come at Villa Park
- Hernandez super-sub, Scholes volley or that Giggs goal. Which is No.1?
As United’s next fixture is Aston Villa away, that means only one thing. Another visit to the hallowed turf of Villa Park, and to make it extra special, it will be the Premier League’s first ever Friday Night Match.
It has been such a fantastic ground for United on a number of occasions, and here we will look back at a few special moments. I mean, even Falcao scored there…
Villa Park has been a brilliant ground for United to visit for a number of reasons. Primarily for the fact that it hosts the game: Villa v United which in itself is one of the highest-scoring fixtures in Premier League history.
It has also been known as an “FA Cup” ground for a number of years, because geographically, it is in a fantastic location. Not the biggest ground in the country but it has provided some magical moments.
There have been so many great moments there we have even had to leave out beating the invincible in the FA Cup there, however there’s plenty more to briefly review instead.
5 – Aston Villa 2-3 Manchester United 10th November 2012
This game epitomises the spirit of United. We were 2-0 after 50 minutes and up steps the more recent super-sub Chicharito. He notched his first goal after 58 minutes to bring the teams closer together at 2-1.
Ruining Villa goalkeeper Guzan’s chances of a clean sheet and then a Vlaar own goal on 63 minutes was the equaliser United needed after some great build-up play. Finally Hernandez got the winner late on in the game on 87 minutes to guarantee United got the 3 points they needed.
4 – Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United 19th August 1995
It might be strange to see a defeat in the top 5 especially when there’s lots of things that can be put there instead. However, this game was more remembered for something said in the aftermath of the game. United had fielded a lot of youngsters that day including Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes who were all part of the infamous Class of 92.
They were later written off by all the media, most famously by Alan Hansen who said “You can’t win anything with kids”. Obviously we all know that the “kids” later went on to win the treble less than 4 years later in the most dramatic of fashions. This is one of the most famous ever football phrases and even features on the opening credits to Match of the Day, following the 50th anniversary of the show last season.
3 – Aston Villa 2-3 Manchester United 6th January 2002
The Newspaper headline the following day read: “A Ruud Awakening” as United knock Aston Villa out of the FA Cup in the third round after being 2-0 on 53 minutes. This is the first of the 2 FA Cup fixtures that we shall mention.
This one is also similar to the premier league fixture, in the fact that they are both games in which United won, after being 2-0 down – again this is another example of the spirit on Manchester United. Down and out of it. They are never out.
Anyway, United were still 2-0 until the 77th minute when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started the fightback. They had less than 15 minutes to turn it around and of course they did it.
A double from Van Nistelrooy followed as he equalised in the 80th minute and put United ahead 2 minutes later as United knocked Villa out of the FA Cup Third Round in stunning style.
2 – Paul Scholes Volley 23rd December 2006
Just missing out on the top spot, is an individual moment by probably the greatest ever midfielder to grace the Premier League. Paul Scholes, needs no introduction and although his main role was dictating the play, and he did that better than anyone else ever has. May we add, he was also known for some stunning goals.
This goal is without a doubt in the top 5 most spectacular goals he has ever scored and probably the most outstanding goal Villa Park has ever seen, well until we reach our number 1 spot. Midway through the second half, Giggs takes a corner which is quickly headed away by a defender, who only turns round to see Paul Scholes pulling the trigger on one of his greatest ever goals.
Nobody could quite believe it and neither could the commentators. There was a delayed reaction by the commentators until Martin Tyler said “POW!” which sums up the goal in the sense that it was so good everybody was lost for words. The goal may have clipped the underneath of the crossbar on its way in, but it just added to fact it was such a special goal. Nobody else could do that, only Paul Scholes
1 – Ryan Giggs v Arsenal FA Cup Semi-Final Replay 14th April 1999
Nothing else could take the top spot other than this. The greatest ever match played at Villa Park. The greatest FA Cup semi-final ever. One of the best FA Cup games ever. Voted the FA Cup’s greatest ever moment (Giggs’s goal). The accolades go on. It turned out to be the last ever semi-final replay, and it was truly emphatic.
The match had it all. It truly epitomises the magic of the FA Cup. Two Fantastic goals. A sending off. A penalty miss. Extra time. The best goal ever. The list goes on. There is nothing that the game didn’t contain. Anyway, after an amazing two goals from Beckham and Bergkamp, extra time was looming.
Very late on however, United conceded a penalty after Phil Neville brought down Ray Parlour. Even though during the treble year United had made it hard for themselves time and time again including in the Champions League Final, many felt that this was the closest they came to losing it.
Bergkamp took the penalty and Schmeichel made a fantastic save to keep United in it. 5 minutes into the second period of extra time, Ryan Giggs tore Arsenal apart. He intercepted a poor pass from Vieira on the halfway line, and ran (or should we say glided) past four defenders before knocking the ball into the roof of the net. May we add this back four was one of the greatest back fours of all time, which included Keown and Dixon. This goal sent United into the FA Cup final in which they overcame Newcastle 2-0, the scorers being none other than Scholes and Sheringham, Part two of the coveted Treble was complete.