Goal of the Day: Foulkes's moment of destiny

Monday 25 November 2019 10:38

Date: 15 May 1968, Bernabeu Stadium, European Cup.

Background: A decade after Munich, Matt Busby and United were desperately close to reaching the European Cup final for the first time but, approaching the closing stages of the semi-final second leg against the giants of Real Madrid, those hopes were hanging in the balance. The Spaniards, roared on by 125,000 baying fans in the Bernabeu, held a 3-2 aggregate lead at half-time, although David Sadler had levelled the aggregate score with 15 minutes to go.

The goal: With the clock ticking down, 36-year-old Bill Foulkes found himself wandering upfield as United built an attack. With the bench shouting at Foulkes to get back, he ignored those cries and continued to advance as a Paddy Crerand throw-in found George Best sprinting down the right wing. Best beat the left-back and cut the ball back into the box, straight to the veteran centre-back, who calmly rifled the ball into the corner of the net.
What happened next: The Reds held on for the tense last 12 minutes in Madrid and booked our place in the European Cup final in Wembley two weeks later, where Benfica would be vanquished to enable United become the first English team to lift the European Cup. For Munich survivors Busby, Foulkes and Bobby Charlton, it was a hugely emotional and significant moment.

Reaction: Bill Foulkes only scored nine goals in a 688-game, 17-year playing career with United, but none came close to this one – as team-mate Best said: “He didn’t half stick it away!” Fellow goalscorer Sadler once remembered: “Nobby Stiles was screaming and shouting at Billy to get back. Normally he’d listen to Nobby but not that night. It was clearly fate. For Billy Foulkes to come striding through onto Bestie’s pullback and stroke the ball into the corner – a goal that Jimmy Greaves, Charlton or Alfredo di Stefano would have been proud of – was too unbelievable for words.”