The latest chapter in one of British football’s fiercest rivalries takes place at Old Trafford on Saturday as Manchester United host Liverpool.
Manchester City might well have the Premier League title almost sewn up, but that should not detract from what promises to be a pulsating affair between the country’s two most successful sides of all time.
The Theatre of Dreams has played host to some classic matches between the north-west giants over the years, with controversy, stunning goals and high drama never far away.
Here, we look back on five iconic moments from clashes at Old Trafford.
‘The King’ returns – October 1995
Eric Cantona could not have cherry-picked a better game in which to make his return from an eight-month ban for his infamous ‘kung fu’ kick on a supporter at Selhurst Park.
Chest puffed out and collar turned up, the Frenchman strode into Old Trafford determined to make an impact against United’s biggest rivals. He did not mess about, creating the opening goal within just two minutes by picking out the marauding Nicky Butt with a pinpoint cross.
Any designs Robbie Fowler had on stealing the limelight with an assured brace were soon dispelled as the talismanic Cantona stroked home a penalty to claim a share of the spoils and waltz right back into the hearts of United fans.
Twenty years ago today, Eric Cantona made a triumphant return from suspension, scoring v Liverpool at Old Trafford. pic.twitter.com/pBl8lsYVSk
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) 1 October 2015
A sign of things to come – January 1999
United’s treble-winning season has gone down in folklore and the seeds for that historic achievement were sown against their bitter rivals in an FA Cup fourth-round clash.
The hosts fell behind to a Michael Owen strike inside three minutes, but in a finale eerily prescient of what was to come in Barcelona against Bayern Munich four months later, the Red Devils scored twice in the dying stages through Dwight Yorke and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Neville’s expensive celebration – January 2006
Gary Neville’s hate-hate relationship with Liverpool reached its nadir in 2006 after Rio Ferdinand’s last-gasp header secured a 1-0 win for Alex Ferguson’s side.
The full-back ran the length of the pitch to celebrate the dramatic winner in front of Liverpool’s fans, repeatedly kissing his badge – an act that earned him a £10,000 fine.
When asked in 2016 by fellow Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher whether the fine was worth it, Neville said: “Absolutely, it was worth a 120-match ban!”
United v Liverpool ! Oh United v Liverpool! A game dreams are made of and nightmares can be reality! pic.twitter.com/0p0FrEX12o
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) March 15, 2014
Gerrard spreads the love – March 2009
Not to be outdone by Neville’s very public display of affection for his boyhood club, Gerrard also planted a smacker a few years later – this time on a TV camera.
The midfielder’s memorable celebration followed a penalty in the 4-1 win – it was one he was clearly fond of as he repeated the trick in his side’s 3-0 win at Old Trafford in 2014.
Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Gerrard said: “I remember hitting the back of the net and running towards the Liverpool fans and the camera sort of came to me so it’s Sky’s fault, not mine.”
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 13, 2017
The Battle of Suarez and Evra – February 2012
The first meeting between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra since the former’s suspension for racially abusing the United defender was every bit as ill-tempered as predicted.
The tone was set when Suarez ignored Evra’s extended hand in the pre-match formalities before the Frenchman jubilantly celebrated United’s 2-1 victory in close proximity to the Uruguayan, sparking an ugly response from Liverpool’s players.
Amidst all that drama an actual football match took place with two Wayne Rooney strikes securing a precious win for United. Liverpool’s scorer? Suarez, of course.
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