Greatest Moments from Manchester United's Championship Season
As will be the case with any season in which the domestic league is won, Manchester United’s 2012-13 campaign is one riddled with significant moments that anyone around the club can be joyful about.
Having reclaimed the Premier League title from local rivals Manchester City in emphatic style, once again competing on Europe’s biggest stage and heavily involved in two English tournaments, Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest season at Old Trafford has assuredly produced some truly great moments.
Recalling the finest instances of sheer elation, the following moments all contributed to an ultimately successful period in Manchester United’s latest term and the Red Devils’ history.
8. Liverpool League Double
More than partially as a result of Liverpool’s decline over recent years, this season produced the first term in which Manchester United have achieved a league double over their bitter rivals since 2008.
Although one might argue that the all-red rivalry isn’t quite the same occasion it’s proven to be in decades gone by, the matches will have meant no less to the players involved and Manchester United’s dominance of the fixture this season was a symbol of their elevation back to England’s finest.
Goals from Rafael and Robin van Persie saw United emerge as victors at Anfield before the Dutchman’s opener in front of Nemanja Vidic’s eventual winner were enough to earn an identical 2-1 triumph in the reverse fixture.
7. Champions League Comeback
Manchester United 3-2 Sporting Braga
Date: October 23, 2012
Whether coincidental or as a genuine result of the club’s eternal resolve, Manchester United’s most recent campaign has had as healthy a dosage of comeback victories as ever.
One of the most notable of which came in the home leg of a Champions League group encounter with Sporting Braga, where it was the Portuguese visitors who found themselves in wonderland, developing an early 2-0 lead at the Theatre of Dreams.
Although the 2008 Champions League victors were rocked, a young Ferguson lineup had the confidence about them not only to equalise, but also to overcome their opposition.
A Javier Hernandez brace was distributed either side of Jonny Evans’ addition to pull off what now seems like a routine turn-around for a side managed by Alex Ferguson, keeping their European winning streak alive in the process.
6. Superstar Signature
Robin van Persie Signs for Manchester United
Date: August 17, 2012
In hindsight, it’s no secret that the £23 million signature of Robin van Persie was a fine move for Manchester United to make over the summer.
However, at the time, some sceptics were of the view that Sir Alex Ferguson breaking his trend of usually sticking to young transfers in order to bring 29-year-old Van Persie to Old Trafford wasn’t a smart tactic.
Nine months and 29 goals across all competitions later, one might say that without the substantial goal threat of their soon-to-be Golden Boot winner, the Red Devils wouldn’t have won the Premier League title or have advanced as far in other competitions.
After finishing the 2011-12 campaign as highest Premier League goalscorer with Arsenal, the acquisition of a proven hitman in the English top flight was the most exciting signing Manchester United had made in a long time.
5. Van Persie Sinks Saints Single-Handedly
Southampton 2-3 Manchester United
Date: September 2, 2012
Barely two weeks into his Manchester United tenure, Robin van Persie was still in the process of proving that he could transfer his talents to Old Trafford, despite having scored his first goal for the club just a week previous.
All doubts regarding such a conversion will have been put firmly to bed after the forward’s fine display at St. Mary’s, a display that saw Van Persie grab his first hat-trick for the Reds.
Having missed a penalty not long before and still 2-1 down with three minutes of normal time left to play, the Dutch maestro gathered himself to prod in an equaliser before heading home a Nani cross in the 90th minute.
Essentially the first game that Robin van Persie can be said to have won by himself as a United player, the result rescued a vital three points for Ferguson’s men and a much-needed confidence boost after losing their season opener against Everton.
4. Bothersome at the Bernabeu
Real Madrid 1-1 Manchester United
Date: February 12, 2013
Having lost 3-1 on their last trip to Real Madrid, a 1-1 draw in the away fixture of Manchester United’s Champions League Round of 16 tie against the Spaniards was a far rosier result for England’s giants.
Although the two sides have only met on 10 separate occasions in their long and illustrious histories, it’s always a special occasion when Manchester United meet Real Madrid, especially given the fact this was Cristiano Ronaldo’s first meeting against his former side since leaving Manchester United in 2009.
An away goal against semi-finalists of the previous two Champions League tournaments was no small feat for United, and even though the matchup didn’t go to plan in the end, United’s first-leg performance did no harm to their reputation on the continental scale.
3. Same Old United
Sporting Braga 1-3 Manchester United
Date: November 7, 2012
Although it won’t be remembered as the greatest Champions League comeback in the club’s history (see 1999 for examples), Manchester United’s late, late revival in Braga was one of the finest away results the Red Devils can boast from this term.
At 1-0 down with 10 minutes left to play, one would’ve received great odds on the visitors eventually seeing off Sporting Braga 3-1 in Portugal, but expectations are more often than not there to be overcome in the Red Devils’ eyes.
Forming an effective attacking trio at the most crucial time, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez all combined in the 80th, 85th and 92nd minutes, respectively, to bring Manchester United the deciding Champions League group points they so dearly needed.
Turning out to be the result that assured them of a place in the competition’s Round of 16, Ferguson’s men were made to work for their Group H top spot qualification but with performances such as this, deserved every bit of it.
2. Derby Dominance
Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United
Date: December 9, 2012
After closely losing out to local rivals Manchester City last season, Sir Alex Ferguson was quick to outline the Premier League trophy as the main priority of his side’s 2012-13 season (via Guardian).
Having failed to score in their last two league visits to the Etihad Stadium, Manchester United turned the title race on its head by beating Roberto Mancini’s Citizens 3-2 on their own turf this time around, extending their lead at the top of the English top flight to six points.
Of course, the victory didn’t come in standard fashion for a match so titanic and Pablo Zabaleta thought he’d earned a point for his reigning champions by scoring to make the score 2-2 in the 85th minute.
However, as he has done on several occasions as a Red Devil so far, Robin van Persie gave the travelling United fans reason for jubilation, netting a 92nd-minute winner for the visitors and dealing a major influence in how the race for the crown ultimately panned out.
1. Champ20ns Once More
Manchester United 3-0 Aston Villa
Date: April 22, 2013
That all being said, if Manchester United’s 3-2 smash and grab at the Etihad was season-defining, their 3-0 battering of Aston Villa in late April can be considered the most pivotal moment to have given Ferguson back his title.
The 20th English top division trophy in the club’s history, such an accolade only served in further cementing United’s place as one of, if not the most successful club in the nation’s history.
It’s of little surprise that a Robin van Persie hat-trick—his second of the Premier League season—was what officially wrapped up the division honours for the club, symbolising just how important he’s be to the team in just one season and doing what he does best—score goals.
Regardless of their failings in the Champions League, domestic competitions or individual performances, all shortcomings will have been swiftly swept under the rug on April 22nd 2013, the crowning moment of yet another Manchester United thrill ride.
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