By Jack Patmore.
Manchester United are slowly but surely returning to where they want to be. The Red Devils are now competing in the upper echelons of the Premier League table and are making United fans dream of glory once again.
Despite only progressing to the quarter-finals stage of the UEFA Champions League on one occasion since the 2013/14 season, United will be looking to secure Europa League silverware this season.
The red side of Manchester has witnessed a host of infamous European nights, but which ones stand out as the most unforgettable?
Man United 2-1 Bayern Munich: 1999 Champions League Final
There is surely only one place to start, isn’t there? It was one of the most incredible nights for many United fans and it will live long in the memory of the competition’s history.
This game epitomised Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign — packed full of drama.
From one goal down with the clock winding down, the Red Devils found a way to lift their second Champions League title in dramatic fashion.
Both teams were chasing a treble of their own but it was the German outfit that were the better side.
United started slowly and Bayern Munich capitalised on their poor start on the six-minute mark. Mario Basler’s deflected free-kick nestled into the corner, leaving Peter Schmeichel rooted to the spot.
Into the second half and Bayern were creating several chances and United were lucky to only be behind by one goal.
The key substitutions came with Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær coming on and it was the former who scored the equaliser. Ryan Giggs’ scuffed shot outside the box fell to Sheringham who put the ball past Bayern keeper Oliver Kahn.
The moment of true euphoria for United came minutes later. David Beckham’s perfect corner kick was headed on by Sheringham to Solskjær who poked home to complete an extraordinary comeback.
A truly magnificent day in the history of Manchester United.
Man United 4-3 Real Madrid: 2003 Champions League quarter-final second leg (Aggregate score 5-6)
Perhaps one of the most entertaining Champions League games of all time — United and Real Madrid played out a classic at Old Trafford.
The Spanish outfit led 3-1 from the first leg so it was going to be an uphill challenge for United to progress to the semi-finals.
The Red Devils started brightly, but their task got harder early on when Ronaldo struck into the net. However, Ruud van Nistelrooy put United on level terms on the night when he slotted the ball in from Solskjær’s cross.
The two teams went in at the break with Real having a 4-1 aggregate lead and that became 5-1 when Ronaldo got his second of the night.
This end-to-end game had another twist in the tail as United got a goal back from an own goal from Ivan Helguera. Despite this, the magnificent Ronaldo got his hat trick with a powerful strike from outside the box to damage United’s hearts.
Hope was restored when David Beckham’s free-kick flew over the Real wall and into the net in typical Beckham style. Despite scoring again, United fell short, but without the brilliance of Ronaldo, it could have been a completely different story.
Man United 1-1 Chelsea (Pens 6-5): 2008 Champions League final
In recent times, United haven’t seen much silverware come their way and this was their most recent Champions League trophy. In an all-English affair at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, United prevailed in a penalty shootout against fellow Premier League side Chelsea.
Cristiano Ronaldo, whose first of five Champions League trophies came in this game, opened the scoring when he jumped higher than Michael Essien to head into the net. They had a chance to double their advantage but Michael Carrick’s shot was expertly saved by Petr Čech.
Just before half-time, Chelsea equalised when Lampard slotted into the United net after getting on the end of Essien’s strike. Lampard should have put the Blues in front when his shot rattled the crossbar after a good piece of play with Michael Ballack.
Chelsea’s task got even harder in the second half of extra time when Didier Drogba was sent off after hitting Nemanja Vidić in the face. Neither side could find a winner, and that carried on into extra time as the game went to penalties.
Ronaldo was the only player to miss out on the first nine penalties, meaning captain John Terry had the chance to seal the trophy for Chelsea. However, the centre-back slipped and his effort rattled the right-hand post. After Giggs scored his spot kick, Nicolas Anelka stepped up but his shot was saved, ensuring United sealed their third Champions League trophy.