Derby Heroes: Five players that have left their mark on the Manchester Derby

Eric Cantona

It’s here again. It feels like a lifetime has passed since Marcus Rashford ended Martin Demichelis’ career at the Emptihad in the 1-0 win last season, and a repeat of those shenanigans this time round would be most welcomed. Rashford was the hero that day, but here we will look back at some of the heroes of years gone by. Last gasp winners, spectacular goals and goals we all just love to remember, and what better place to start than with one of the best goals scored at Old Trafford.

Wayne Rooney: 12th February 2011

You all remember the goal, surely. A Nani cross was deflected into the striker’s path and Rooney acted with utter and complete audacity and he leaped 6 foot into the air and dispatched a sensational bicycle kick beyond a stunned Joe Hart. It’s a goal that is still talked about now, a celebration perfect for a highlights reel and at the time it was the match winner and crucial goal for United.

Nani had opened the scoring in front of the Stretford End in the 41st minute, Ryan Giggs laying it on a plate for the winger to slot home beyond the England goalkeeper. City dominated the best of the action, and it came as no great surprise when David Silva fired beyond Edwin van der Sar on the hour mark to restore parity to the match. 14 minutes later, Rooney won it. And how he won it. It’s a moment many United fans ask where you were when you saw it, it still defies description and baffles viewers as to how he got it so perfect. Rooney, in this case, was the hero.

Paul Scholes: 17th April 2010

The Ginger Genius may now be a tad on the moaning side, but when it came down to matters on the pitch there was very little he could do to irk supporters. This moment certainly made him a Derby hero, the last-gasp winner at the Etihad months after Michael Owens’ dramatic goal in the reverse earlier in the season (a little pointer to the next entry) only made stronger the love he felt at Old Trafford.

Scrappy, boring and tense are the perfect adjectives for this League affair six years ago. And the game itself does not live long in the memory, nor really does the goal as a consequence of this. But it should, as it was classic Scholes. A game for action it was not, and as time was almost up on this clash Patrice Evra hung a cross into the penalty area and beyond the reach of Shay Given for the arriving Scholes to nod home and send the away crowd into raptures. 1-0, and a big stride towards the title.

Michael Owen: 20th September 2009

Another Derby early in the season (one I was fortunate enough to be at) and the very epitome of a ding-dong battle as the two rivals played a game of you-score-we-score in a game that was dramatic from start to finish. This game had it all from superb strikes to goalkeeping errors to what proved to be the winner deep into stoppage time.

The scoring started early, Wayne Rooney tapping home from inside the six-yard box in the second minute. City was level 12 minutes later, Carlos Tevez seizing on woeful goalkeeping by Ben Foster and giving Gareth Barry the chance to equalise. Darren Fletcher nodded home after the break, only for Craig Bellamy to once more bring things level with a stunning effort shortly after. Fletcher scored again for United with 8 minutes remaining, and the points looked safe. That was until Rio Ferdinand gave it away on halfway and Bellamy eventually rounded Foster to equalise yet again in the 90th minute. A point each then. Until the 96th minute, a Rooney free kick was cleared back to him by the City defence, he played it off to Ryan Giggs who slid it through to Michael Owen for a moment of pure ecstasy as he won the tie. Cheers Michael.

Andrei Kanchelskis: 10th November 1994

Kanchelskis is a player often forgotten in United folklore, but the Russian was an ace in the box for the Red Devils. One of his finest moments came in a Manchester Derby and a 5-0 rout at Old Trafford.

Eric Cantona had started the scoring at the mid point of the first half with a brilliant left-footed finish. Kanchelskis then added a second and the first of his hattrick, assisted majestically by the Frenchman and squeezing home at the near post just before half time. And he added his second after the break, running on to a flick on the Russian burst into the City box and finished in true Kanchelskis style (his initial.shot saved and the rebound slotted home with aplomb). Mark Hughes scored fourth before, with not long to go, Kanchelskis completed his hattrick with another rebounded effort.

Eric Cantona: 7th November 1993

Cantona scored in every Manchester Derby he played in. It’s a record that separates him from other mere mortals to have played in this fixture, and furthers his legend at Old Trafford. But it was his goals in this after his side were 2-0 down, that stick in the mind.

United should have found themselves ahead at Maine Road, but nobody seemed to want to breach Tony Coton’s goal. So City took matters into their own hands, Niall Quinn with the goals for the home side. Tempers flared, and Mark Hughes was booked for what now would be considered common assault. This spurred United on, and the comeback started thanks to Cantona who seized upon shocking defending. It was all square soon after, Cantona sweeping home a Ryan Giggs cross. Roy Keane proved the match winner, but Cantona was the catalyst in this famous win.

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