injuries left the back line stretched, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra, Rafael and Alex Büttner all weighed in with goals and Evans (who let us not forget waited 118 games before scoring his first United goal) has only Rooney, Hernandez and van Persie above him in the top-scorers list this term. Perhaps the most important, and most impressive, of the defenders’ strikes came from the boot of Rafael. With the Reds behind at Anfield, the little Brazilian conjured a moment of sheer magic, accepting Shinji Kagawa’s chested return and bending a perfectly struck equaliser beyond the clutches of Pepe Reina.
The comeback kings
Beneath this season’s hair-tearing trend of conceding first has lain an overriding positive. Every setback provides a platform to showcase our pièce de résistance – the comeback – and this season has already crammed in a campaign’s worth of against-the-odds triumph. “The game is for 90 minutes and you need to play until the last minute,” panted Chicharito after November’s two-goals-down, 3-2-up victory at Aston Villa. Even by that early point in the season, United had come from behind to win seven times, including late victories against Southampton, Liverpool, Braga and Villa. There have been occasions where such self-made mountains have proven insurmountable (Everton, Tottenham, Norwich), but even when leads have been taken and subsequently squandered, United have still found the reserves to procure all three points. To have done so at the homes of Chelsea and Manchester City speaks volumes for the indefatigable spirit which continues to characterise Sir Alex’s side.
More: Big Red quiz of 2012