Here is my top 5 last-ditch saves from United’s history. Feel free to add some of yours in the comments section at the bottom.
And Smith must score! – Gary Bailey vs Brighton 1983 FA Cup Final
In the last attack, of extra time Brighton broke forward and Gordon Smith, with the goal at his mercy, unleashed a shot to settle the final and make it 3-2. Unfortunately for him Gary Bailey (with all the grace of a falling giraffe) managed to get his body in front of it and hold the ball.
Brighton fans subsequently named one of their fanzines And Smith must score!
Gary Bailey earlier this year in South Africa. Still obviously pleased with himself.
Stepney and Eusebio – vs Benfica 1968 European Cup Final
Two years previously Eusebio had left England with the Golden Boot at the World Cup. This time he left with nothing. The world’s most lethal right boot fired a shot at United’s goal in the dying seconds of this Wembley final. Alex Stepney made the save, Georgie rounded their keeper in extra time and history was made. You can’t argue with destiny.
Clayton Blackmore off the line – vs Barcelona 1991 European Cup Winners Cup Final
Not strictly a goalie but I’ll bet he would have played there if asked. He is unque amongst United players for being the only man to have played in all outfield positions; and before the age before squad numbers he wore every shirt from 2-11.
One of his final kicks of the 1990/91 season was to clear the ball of the line in the final minutes when Barcelona were murdering us. Ten minutes later as the trophy was lifted in Rotterdam, United fans the world over started to believe in Ferguson’s revolution. Few remember the Welshman’s contribution to that now, at the time though, he was crucial.
Clayton Blackmore today.
Ooh Aah Van Der Sar – vs Chelsea 2008 European Cup Final
It takes two seconds to watch this save in the clip but I can’t help myself from watching the whole 10-minute jamboree every time. Thirteen years after his first European Cup Final Van Der Sar returned to the game’s top stage and made it his own. Cristiano Ronaldo also owes him a huge debt of gratitude. Had VDS not done his job between the sticks, the Portugese would have been held to account for his own missed kick.
That semi-final – Schmeical vs Arsenal FA Cup Semi-Final Replay 1999
The game that had everything, meant everything and defined the greatest season in the club’s history.
A truly great Arsenal side careered into Beckham, Scholes, Giggs and Keane at their peak and sparks flew. United were down to ten men with the clock ticking down when the cipher like Denis Bergkamp stepped up to take the penalty widely expected to settle the game.
Schmeical stuck out one those giant hams of his and saved it. Setting us up for the delirium of Giggsie’s winner and the march to the treble. There were many season-defining moments in this match, but Schmeical’s was the rock on which all others were built.
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Photography courtesy of atomicshed and jacashgone @FlickrCcoms