United's classics in the Premier League at Easter
As is the case with Christmas, Easter weekend is synonymous with football – and lots of it.
Teams used to play twice over the four-day holiday, but the most recent time this happened for United was in 2006, when we were held to a goalless draw by Sunderland on Good Friday, before beating Tottenham 2-1 the following Monday.
While Easter may not be the feast of football it once was, the Reds still have plenty of Premier League classics to look back on from this time of year.
We take you down memory lane, picking out five of our finest Easter wins from the Premier League era…
UNITED 2-1 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (10 APRIL 1993)
The afternoon when we all felt 26 years of grinding, crushing league disappointment coming to an end. Just a point clear of Aston Villa, with six to play, memories of our late collapse the previous season came rushing back all around Old Trafford when John Sheridan converted a Wednesday penalty midway through the second half. United pushed for an equaliser, but it looked to be one of those days until Steve Bruce popped up with a header from the edge of the area to level – his first goal in six months. Many sides would have settled for a point and gone again the following week, but in an extended period of injury-time, awarded after referee Michael Peck had earlier departed injured, the big centre-back once again connected with the ball in a packed 18-yard box to send the Theatre of Dreams – and Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd – into delirium. We’d go on to win all of our remaining games, clinching the title by 10 points. But for Bruce’s late show, it may not have been that comfortable in the end.
MAN CITY 2-3 UNITED (6 APRIL 1996)
As one of the most thrilling title races in top-flight history entered its denouement, United travelled across town to Maine Road still unbeaten against the Blues in the Premier League era. That record, encompassing 13 matches, would soon be stretched further, but not until a thrilling derby, which saw City twice peg United back, was concluded. First, Mikheil Kavelashvili struck on his debut to level after Eric Cantona’s early penalty and then, after Andy Cole’s instant reponse, Uwe Rosler claimed a marvellous individual goal, 20 minutes from time, to leave Ferguson’s men staring at two costly dropped points. This United side, however, never knew when they were beaten and Ryan Giggs smashed home at Eike Immel’s near post to make this a memorable Easter for the red half of Manchester.
SOUTHAMPTON 1-3 UNITED (22 APRIL 2000)
The Reds rampaged to the Premier League title in 1999/00 and made it over the line on a sunny Saturday afternoon at The Dell in late April. So often a ground where we’d slipped up in the ‘90s, there would be no mistakes this time around, with Sir Alex feeling comfortable enough to leave out Dwight Yorke and Paul Scholes. Yorke’s replacement, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, opened the scoring for United and a David Beckham free-kick and Francis Benali own-goal followed, virtually wrapping things up before half-time. Marian Pahars may have managed a late consolation for the Saints, but our travelling support were ultimately left to bask in a seventh consecutive win – not to mention our sixth Premier League title in eight years.
LEEDS 3-4 UNITED (30 MARCH 2002)
This was a truly bonkers game of football between the two rivals from across the Pennines. United were locked in a three-way title race with Liverpool and Arsenal at the time, but we’d ceded our advantage at the summit with a sloppy defeat to Middlesbrough a week earlier. Three points were required, and Scholes sidefooted home early on to silence the Elland Road crowd. Mark Viduka equalised soon after, but a brace from Solskjaer and a Giggs tap-in looked to have taken the game away from the Whites early in the second half. David O’Leary’s side roared back into it though, through Ian Harte’s free-kick and a Lee Bowyer header, but United’s ruthlessness in front of goal – this performance saw us top 2000/01’s goal haul – saw us through in the end.
UNITED 2-0 CHELSEA (16 APRIL 2017)
Antonio Conte’s formidable Blues travelled to Old Trafford having lost just twice since September, while the Reds, playing catch-up in the race for top four, were out for revenge after a 4-0 hammering in the reverse fixture. On Easter Sunday, we served it up in the finest of manners, denting Chelsea’s league hopes in the process. Marcus Rashford beat David Luiz to Ander Herrera’s through ball before slotting past Asmir Begovic for the opener, before Herrera capped a fine display by firing in early in the second half, via the knee of Kurt Zouma. It was Jose Mourinho’s first victory over his former club, although ultimately it wouldn’t be enough to derail Chelsea’s title procession.
UNITED’S PL RECORD AT EASTER
Played - 31
Won - 22
Drawn - 4
Lost - 5
DAYS PLAYED ON
Good Friday – 2
Easter Saturday - 17
Easter Sunday - 6
Easter Monday – 6