The best opposition keeper performances against us
Francis Uzoho’s superlative performance for Omonia Nicosia at Old Trafford on Thursday evening got us thinking about great opposition goalkeeper showings against United from years gone by.
Uzoho made an incredible 12 saves for the Cypriot side and only Scott McTominay’s 93rd-minute strike – United’s 34th shot of the game – denied him a much-deserved clean sheet.
The Nigerian confessed after the game that he is a big United fan and he will surely cherish the memories of his stellar stint for years to come.
We’ve put our heads together and come up with a handful of keepers who have also frustrated us in the past…
The story from inside the West Ham dressing room goes that, safe from relegation and completely relaxed, only one of the Hammers’ players warmed up ahead of their Premier League season finale against United in 1995. Those who watched that nightmarish afternoon unfold won’t be surprised to learn that it was goalkeeper Ludek Mikloso. Needing a win to wrap up a third straight title, United trailed in the first half. Andy Cole hit the post, Brian McClair equalised, but it was only then, in that final half-hour when just one more goal was required, that the Czech became a one-man nightmare.
Whatever the situation, whatever the range, whatever the angle, there was just no way past him, and he repelled everything that every United player could conjure until time finally ran out and Blackburn took the trophy. Nearly 30 years on, I’m yet to fully forgive him.
De Gea's words for 'amazing' UzohoArticle
David's interview after our Omonia win includes an answer about the Cypriots' impressive keeper.
To suffer one incredible goalkeeping performance at the climax of a season is bad luck but two in consecutive games was just ridiculous. Hot on the heels of Miklosko’s masterclass, Neville Southall was the undisputed Man of the Match in the FA Cup final to make it a case of Double Disaster rather than the Double for the Reds, which, as it turns out, would have been three on the trot.
Southall, once linked with United, rolled back the years with a vintage display at Wembley. He may have been beaten by Norman Whiteside a decade earlier but was not for passing this time – two great stops from Paul Scholes stick in the memory and he also tipped a Brian McClair header onto the bar. A great keeper had a great match, at just the wrong time for us.
Casillas grew to become one of the greatest keepers in world football, but he was a callow youth when United faced Real Madrid in the 2000 Champions League quarter-final. Although opposite number Mark Bosnich had been the busiest of the goalies in a deadlocked first leg, Los Blancos – struggling in La Liga at the time – were clear underdogs going into the Old Trafford return.
Defensive failings would ultimately cost us this tie, with the three-goal lead established by Real after 52 minutes proving insurmountable. But had the man they’d go on to call San Iker not been between the sticks, the result – and United history – could have been so different. Casillas made terrific first-half reaction stops from David Beckham and Roy Keane, as the Reds looked to respond to the latter’s unfortunate own goal and launch another remarkable European comeback. Casillas was eventually beaten by Beckham and a Scholes penalty, but the game finished 3-2 and Real’s aggregate lead was protected by another close-range save, this time from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer late on.
As Sir Alex Ferguson would remark after the game: “The keeper was marvellous but it’s not normal for an 18-year-old to be like that. Not at all normal.”
New Year’s Day and United are set to start 2003 on a real low. Trailing to lowly Sunderland, we pepper the Black Cats’ goal but find Jurgen Macho in inspired form. The Austrian needed a bit of luck, clutching the ball after a Paul Scholes shot struck both posts, but he repelled efforts by Beckham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Juan Sebastian Veron and Rio Ferdinand as Sir Alex’s men piled on the pressure.
Even after Beckham’s equaliser, Macho looked to have at least earned a point when thwarting Diego Forlan but he was beaten at the death, by Scholes, and was a figure of utter dejection at the final whistle. For context, the Wearsiders mustered only one more point all season as they were relegated.
United 2 Sunderland 1
1 January 2003: A dramatic start to the new year as United came from behind to win with two late goals.
A few years ago, Michael Carrick told me that our 2-0 away win against Schalke in 2011 was one of the finest United performances (if not the finest) during his time at the club. The scoreline looks unremarkable on paper, and it's fair to say Schalke were relatively ordinary opposition. But anyone that watched the game will remember the weight of chances created by a rampant Reds side. And, if not for the young goalkeeper guarding Schalke's net that night, Manuel Neuer, we'd almost certainly have been looking at a cricket score come full-time.
It was a hugely frustrating match: United were scintillating, but the contest remained goalless until the 67th minute. And in a Champions League semi-final, your nerves are already tingling. Thankfully, calm finishes from Giggs and Rooney eventually nudged us closer towards a third final in four years. But Neuer's raft of first-half saves remain lodged in my memory. His reflexes and sheer presence in the goal were magnificent. And intimidating. It's no surprise he’s become arguably the leading goalkeeper of his generation, winning almost every honour available to him.
When have you been most impressed with an opposition goalkeeper? Don't forget to send us your opinions via our social media platforms.