United have battled plenty of title rivals in late-season ding-dongs and come out the other side. Here are five of the finest such affairs from Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign…
Norwich City 1 Manchester United 3, Carrow Road, 5 April 1993
Four successive draws for United had resulted in a dramatic slide from top spot down to third, four points behind league leaders Aston Villa and two behind the high-flying Canaries. The consensus was that the Reds’ bottle had gone again, just a year after 1992’s late-season horror show. Not so. Sir Alex’s side blew in and out of Carrow Road, a whirlwind of zest, pace and power. And three beautifully swift counter-attacks in the space of eight first-half minutes, ending with goals from Ryan Giggs, Andrei Kanchelskis and Eric Cantona did the damage. The Canaries were grounded; the visitors soared to the title, finishing 10 points clear of Villa.
Newcastle United 0 Manchester United 1, St James’ Park, 4 March 1996
One of the ultimate smash-and-grab raids of Sir Alex’s reign. Procuring victory from an almighty pummelling, this bore shades of Muhammad Ali’s tactical battering at the fists of George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle – except the Reds had no intention to sit and absorb such punishment. Newcastle, with a perfect home record and a four-point lead at the head of the table, subjected United to an unrelenting barrage of early efforts. Only the heroic defiance of Peter Schmeichel and Steve Bruce kept the Magpies at bay, and somehow kept it scoreless at the interval. Then, with United’s first strike, came the knockout blow, as Cantona popped up to hammer home Phil Neville’s cross. Newcastle never threatened again, United moved within a point, and, of course, it was Kevin Keegan who