Through the years: United v Celtic

Sunday 07 July 2024 11:59

With only two months to go before a team of United legends take on Celtic, we thought we’d whet your appetite for the match by revisiting some epic European ties against the Bhoys.

For two teams so successful and located in neighbouring countries, it may come as a surprise to learn that United and Celtic have only faced off against one another in competitive fixtures on four occasions, and all of those games came within a two-year period between 2006 – 2008.

Fittingly, for Scotland and England’s first European Cup winners, the games came in Europe’s premier competition – the Champions League. The maiden match did not disappoint.

Scholes and Butt confirmed for Legends game


The two Treble heroes are the first players to be announced for our September date with Celtic.

Under the floodlights at the Theatre of Dreams, it was United that emerged victorious in a 3-2 thriller, but it was Celtic who opened the scoring. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink swept an excellent finish past Edwin van der Sar to put the Glaswegians one goal to the good after 21 minutes.

It wasn’t to last, however, as in true Reds style, we turned the result on its head as a brace from Louis Saha and a close-range finish from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer secured the points for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.

The other goalscorer on the night was Celtic’s Shunsuke Nakamura, whose stunning free-kick in front of the Stretford End left Edwin rooted to the spot. Two months later, he would repeat the trick, notching another excellent set-piece and helping the Bhoys achieve a famous 1-0 win against United.

Michael Carrick and Thomas Gravesen battle in midfield, during these sides' first-ever meeting in 2006.

It was a crackling atmosphere at Celtic Park, with Reds legend and former club captain Nemanja Vidic later describing the home supporters as the only crowd that left him feeling intimidated.

“For the first ten minutes of the game, it was like they were breathing fire,” Vidic said back in 2019.

Two years later and back at Old Trafford – another stadium known for its raucous atmospheres – newly crowned European champions United made light work of Celtic in the latest group-stage game between the sides.

Goal of the Day: Giggs v Celtic Video

Goal of the Day: Giggs v Celtic

Ryan Giggs earned a Champions League point for United against Celtic with this late header, on 5 November 2008...

One of our returning legends, Dimitar Berbatov, bagged his first European goals in M16, following hot on the heels of his first two Champions League goals for the club in the previous fixture against Aalborg.

The Bulgarian no.9 notched number one and two, before Wayne Rooney capped a fine performance by cementing a comfortable 3-0 win.

Ahead of his return in September, we spoke to Dimitar about that night. “If I remember correctly, one was an easy and ugly goal and the other was a tap-in!” he laughed.

“They are good memories. Every memory I have that is connected with me scoring a goal, it's always a good memory. This is how strikers are.

“Celtic were always interesting to play, too. I used to really like them and their stadium – the atmosphere was unbelievable. It was crazy.”

Berbatov added to Legends squad


Dimitar will return to action at Old Trafford in September!

Berba was to sample that atmosphere only a few weeks after his Old Trafford brace, when it appeared a repeat of the 2006 match was on the cards as Celtic led 1-0 late into the game by virtue of a first-half Scott McDonald lob.

This was cancelled out in the 76th minute, however, when Ryan Giggs nodded home to secure an important point on the road for the Reds.

Eight years earlier, the Welshman had become the latest United player to have his testimonial against Celtic, following in the footsteps of our Legends team manager Bryan Robson, and Brian McClair.

Roy Keane completed the quartet in 2006 when Cristiano Ronaldo secured a 1-0 win for United in the Irishman’s testimonial.

The games prior had all ended 4-3, 3-1 and 2-1, featuring goals aplenty, and we’re expecting the latest instalment of this fixture to be just as exciting, with rivalries renewed across the park.


Tickets for the match on Saturday 7th September – kick-off 14:00 BST - are available now for all supporters to purchase! Click here to secure your seat.

All the proceeds from the game will go towards supporting youngsters across Greater Manchester and beyond, helping Manchester United Foundation to continue its community work and improving the lives of thousands of young people.