Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Newcastle United

Alexis winner could be a turning point

Steve Bruce, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Kiko Macheda, Michael Owen and now Alexis Sanchez have all been key figures in dramatic late triumphs at Old Trafford.

Every team needs the boost of a nail-biting, last-minute win to send confidence rocketing. And this Manchester United side certainly needed Saturday’s sensational 3-2 comeback against Newcastle United. It can do the players the world of good.
The Stretford End has witnessed some awesome thrillers right under their noses in the modern era when it seemed the vibes from the famous stand were sucking the ball into the opponents' net.

Saturday’s cliffhanger is up with the best of them, including that famous afternoon in April 1993 when Sir Alex Ferguson's dream team were battling to break the hoodoo of the club not winning a league title for 26 years.
The Reds were threatening to crumble under the late season pressure when Sheffield Wednesday were leading 1-0 at the Theatre of Dreams.

And then, deep into added-on time, so deep that on a normal matchday, the players would have already been showered and changed, Steve Bruce powered home the second of his two headed goals in quick succession to complete the turnover from a damaging defeat into a greatly galvanising 2-1 win.

The impact of that comeback was like switching on the after burners and United ultimately soared to that first Premier League title win.

Back in January 1999 before the word ‘Treble’ had even been mentioned, Sir Alex's men were on the brink of seeing one leg of that famous campaign collapse at Old Trafford.

In the FA Cup fourth round at home to Liverpool, United had been trailing to a third-minute Michael Owen goal and with the clock ticking, the cauldron intensified as the hosts mounted a late onslaught. Dwight Yorke equalised after 88 minutes and then, in stoppage time, Solskjaer gave us a taste of the drama that was to unfold at the very end of the season when he drilled in a euphoric winner.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates after scoring against Liverpool in the FA Cup in 1999
Solskjaer celebrates after scoring in the FA Cup comeback win over Liverpool in January 1999.
A decade later and Old Trafford was anxious with United trailing 2-1 to Aston Villa in a key title match for the Reds. Liverpool had moved two points clear at the top 24 hours earlier. Lose this one and United faced an almighty scrap to win the crown. The Merseysiders would have been favourites.

After an hour, Sir Alex introduced 17-year-old Italian striker Federico Macheda for his debut. Cristiano Ronaldo was to level the game up but in stoppage time it was the new kid who fired home a sensational winner in front of a delirious Stretford End. There was no stopping United after that and another title was eventually won.

Months later, in the early weeks of the 2009/10 season, there was another dramatic late winner for the Reds. The 153rd Manchester derby was box-office entertainment as the game went goal crazy to leave the score at 3-3 in injury time.

Six minutes into that added-on period, United's summer recruit and substitute Michael Owen was put through by Ryan Giggs and he clipped the ball home to beat City 4-3. Old Trafford was in uproar.
Michael Owen celebrates his famous winning goal as Manchester United beat Manchester City 4-3 in 2009
Owen enjoys his famous derby winner in September 2009.
Whether it's capping a pulsating comeback or settling a see-saw goal fest in your favour, there's no doubt that a last-minute winner can galvanise teams and on Saturday, Jose Mourinho’s side pulled off what could be a significant triumph.

Significant for the team and for the man whose injury-time effort separated the sides. Alexis Sanchez has, in truth, had a subdued start to the season but like Solskjaer, Macheda and Owen before him, the super-sub role seemed to inspire the Chilean as he headed home against Newcastle.

For United and Alexis, that magic moment, so typical of the Old Trafford storybook, could prove to be a turning point, one we will all reflect on later in this 2018/19 season.

The opinions expressed in this article are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United.
 

Highlights: United 3 Newcastle 2 Video

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