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Mark Hughes

Goal of the Day: Sparky's rocket past Shilton

Manchester United legend Mark Hughes bamboozled the Derby County defence and fired past Peter Shilton in Tuesday's 'Goal of the Day’...

Date: 12 November 1988, Baseball Ground, Division One

Background: Back at Old Trafford via a club-record £1.8million deal, following continental stints at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Mark Hughes had netted in five of his six previous league games as we prepared to face the Rams on this day 31 years ago, amid a perplexing run of eight draws in nine league outings for Alex Ferguson’s side.

The goal: Trailing 1-0 through Dean Saunders’s seventh-minute strike, the Reds produced some neat passing in the 42nd minute which culminated in Hughes receiving the ball from Mick Duxbury. Still 30 yards out, ‘Sparky’ somehow stayed on his feet despite a hefty attempted chop from Trevor Hebberd, before the Welshman arrowed a low drive past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton.

What happened next: Hebberd restored the Rams' lead just two minutes into the second half, forcing the visitors to find another equaliser, this time courtesy of a Brian McClair header, to head back north with a share of the spoils against Arthur Cox’s side. After drawing our way through all five November games, three points was finally secured in our first match of December, a 3-0 win against Charlton. Hughes was again on the scoresheet that day, en route to being crowned PFA Players’ Player of the Year.

Reaction: Alex Ferguson was certainly grateful for Sparky's strike against Derby, with it coming shortly after a half-hour of football that the manager described in his next match programme column as “our worst of the season”. The boss went on to describe Hughes as a “standard bearer”, who, along with McClair, “will soon lead us into strong contention for the title, I’m sure”. While that would take four more seasons, the Scot – not for the last time – was proved right.

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