a four-point deficit and cut Newcastle's lead to one with a far-post strike from Eric Cantona. The win deflated the hosts and gave United the necessary belief to finish the season strongly and overtake the Magpies in a stunning run-in.
1996/97 - 28 December 1996, United 1-0 Leeds, Old Trafford (Cantona)
For the third consecutive game during a busy Christmas period, United kept a clean sheet, giving the ever-reliable Eric Cantona the platform to put away a match-winning penalty against his former club. Sir Alex said afterwards, “The important aspect of today’s game was not losing a goal.”
1998/99 - 9 May 1999, Middlesbrough 0-1 United, Riverside Stadium (Yorke)
Three points adrift of Arsenal after conceding an 89th-minute equaliser at Liverpool in the previous game, United were in desperate need of a victory on Teeside. A cross from David Beckham and great link-up play between Teddy Sheringham and Dwight Yorke gave the Tobagan the chance to nod home for the vital winner.
1999/00 - 20 February 2000, Leeds 0-1 United, Elland Road (Cole)
With Leeds in pole position, three points ahead of United at the end of January, a closely-fought game epitomised what was then a tight race between the top two. A moment of predatory opportunism from Andy Cole was all that separated the sides, with United also grateful to goalkeeper Mark Bosnich for making a string of acrobatic saves. This away win was a defining game with the Reds going on to win the title with ease.
2000/01 - 31 January 2001, Sunderland 0-1 United, Stadium of Light (Cole)
Three players were sent off in this volatile affair but the most important statistic was the goal chalked up by Andy Cole, 25