Goal of the Day: Ruud awakening for Basel

Tuesday 26 November 2019 10:44

Today's strike is a memorable effort from our destructive Dutchman, against FC Basel in a Champions League group stage tie 17 years ago...

Date: 26 November 2002, St Jakob Stadium, UEFA Champions League

Background: Ruud van Nistelrooy had already filled his boots in the 2002/03 Champions League campaign with six goals, including two in the qualifying stage, as Phase 2 kicked off at the end of November (in those days there were two separate group stages in the UCL, remember). Ruud had scored 10 goals for United in his debut European campaign the year before and it turned out he was only getting warmed up.

The goal: The Swiss side had taken a shock lead after just 31 seconds in their first-ever match against the Reds, and carried that lead through to the hour mark. Van Nistelrooy levelled the scores in the 62nd minute and just 60 seconds later grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. Picking up a bobbling ball on the left of the box, our no.10 danced his way to the byline, beat a couple of defenders and deftly placed the ball into the net from an improbable angle.

What happened next: The remarkable turnaround was complete five minutes later when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made it 3-1. Ruud ended that season with 12 goals in the Champions League proper – a then-tournament record, despite United exiting at the quarter-final stage to Real Madrid.

Reaction: Justifying his selection as man-of-the-match, the next issue of matchday programme United Review stated: “You need reasons? It's the way he makes it look so devastatingly simple. lt's the way he went past the Basel defence like it wasn't there for that goal. It's the unconfined joy that follows every goal. Eighteen of them in 20 European games and he's just getting started.”