"The cameras tracked his every move from the tunnel to out on the pitch as the fans worshipped their idol in a manner rarely seen before and since."

More: 12 Days of Cantona | Kanchelskis praises Cantona

02/12/2012 10:38, Report by Adam Marshall
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The return of the King

in teeing up Nicky Butt's opener. Robbie Fowler's two-goal salvo looked to be earning him the mantle of party-pooper extraordinaire before the main man took centre stage once again with 20 minutes left.

Ryan Giggs was flattened by Jamie Redknapp and David Elleray's decision to point to the spot allowed Cantona to nervelessly beat David James and celebrate in front of his adoring public. The mixture of relief and elation was obvious from the returning hero. "This was a moment of gladness not madness," commented the Daily Mail's Alan Fraser. "A moment for celebrations not recriminations. Here was the smiling face of the man from the moon. The dark side will be seen soon enough."

The Reds would have to settle for a 2-2 draw, leaving opposing boss Evans to complain bitterly afterwards: "It is a sad story when the referee thinks he has equal billing with Eric Cantona. I thought Cantona passed the test but the referee did not. We deserved more than we got. We lost two points on a dodgy decision."

The United manager preferred to focus on Cantona, even though he was weary of the attention being lavished on his influential centre-forward. "Eric did well," he stressed. "He's tired, of course, but he can be pleased with his performance. And the hype's over - thank goodness."

David Lacey wrote in his report in The Guardian: "Second comings could be worse." Except this was only ever going to be the beginning. Cantona would go on to inspire a second Double, his next strike against the Merseysiders, in the dying seconds of the FA Cup final at Wembley, proving to be one of his sweetest and arguably knocking Liverpool's side irrevocably off the path of future greatness.

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