Cristiano Ronaldo.

Why did Ronaldo celebrate like this?

Wednesday 14 July 2021 13:07

Stewart Gardner paints the picture in our video of Manchester United's trip to Sunday's friendly opponents Derby County, back in 2008.

"The 100th meeting between United and Derby but what a chasm there is between these two clubs," opened the MUTV commentator ahead of kick-off.

United were on course to eventually win the Premier League and Champions League and, in Cristiano Ronaldo, we had surely the best player in Europe.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side had just racked up eight goals in consecutive wins over Newcastle United and Fulham, and had triumphed 4-1 in the corresponding fixture at Old Trafford in December.

What happened at Pride Park in 2008? Video

What happened at Pride Park in 2008?

See the highlights from the visit to Derby in a history-making season for the Reds and the Rams...

Derby were rooted to the bottom of the table and were officially relegated only two weeks later, the earliest demotion in Premier League history.

The East Midlanders also set unwanted records by accumulating the fewest points since three points for a win were introduced, the longest run without a victory and achieved just one win in the 38 matches.

'Rams to the slaughter' was the impression in the newspapers as the Reds looked to go top by swatting aside the strugglers.

The reality turned out to be very different. Ben Foster made his debut in goal for United but everybody anticipated former Red Roy Caroll being much busier at the other end.

Ryan Giggs quickly worked his old team-mate and chances were created regularly, only for Ronaldo and the other forwards to fail to find the net. The Portugal international hit the woodwork and pulled a shot inches wide and it was beginning to look like one of those days.

Furthermore, Derby actually grew in stature and twice threatened a shock opener in a matter of minutes, only for Foster to pull off vital saves, the second one to deny Kenny Miller when the Scot was clean through.

It got to the 76th minute and the nerves were starting to jangle as United were threatening to drop at least two costly points in the title race.

Wayne Rooney, who will be in the opposing dug-out on Sunday afternoon for the live MUTV friendly, crossed from the left and Ronaldo arrived, right on cue, to smash the ball past Carroll and produce a memorable celebration.

Counting out the number of missed opportunities, he then motioned to wipe his brow in relief as this would prove to be a key step en route to glory later in the season.