Time added on… and on… and on
“Historically it has happened before. I was in teams here where we always had a little bit of benefit,” said Manchester City boss Mark Hughes. A tantalisingly suggestive statement after he witnessed a thrilling Manchester derby defeat to a ninety-sixth minute Michael Owen winner. Cue wild celebrations, an impromptu dance from Sir Alex Ferguson and questions being asked of the referee’s timekeeping.
Just before Craig Bellamy took maximum advantage of Rio Ferdinand’s questionable distribution to knock in a ninetieth minute equaliser, the fourth official Alan Wiley had indicated four minutes of injury time were to be added. As a result, Hughes was not best pleased as the game continued into a seventh minute of time added-on.
As the former United striker suggested, this is not the first time that injury time has been the subject of controversy for the Old Trafford club…
1. Man Utd vs Sheffield Wednesday (April 1993)
Trailing by a solitary goal going into the business end of the inaugural Premier League season, United threw the kitchen sink at Wednesday. A ninety-third minute equaliser from the head of Steve Bruce drew celebrations, but these were eclipsed when a further three minutes into injury time, the head of Bruce struck again. Not unlike yesterday afternoon, the bench went wild. The highlight of which was Brian Kidd’s kneeling, fists-in-air celebration towards the gods. Divine intervention was it?
2. Man Utd vs Bayern Munich (May 1999)
The most famous injury time winner in Manchester United’s history – and probably the Champions League’s history too – came on a muggy night in Barcelona. A goal down from a sixth minute Mario Basler free kick, Ferguson’s men had to wait till a minute into added time for Teddy Sheringham to sweep in the equaliser. Two minutes later, Ole Gunnar Solskjær stuck out a leg and deflected Sheringham’s header past a stranded Oliver Kahn. The United boss summed the drama up perfectly with his now immortal comment: “Football! Bloody hell!”
3. Liverpool vs Man Utd (March 2007)
After ninety minutes of near total Liverpool domination, John O’Shea added his name to the list of Manchester United injury time heroes with a close range header from a questionable Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick. A large stroke of fortune in their arch rivals’ backyard set United on the way to a first league championship in four years, following two years of Mourinho-led Chelsea dominance.
4. Man Utd vs Aston Villa (April 2009)
Federico Macheda. A name firmly engraved into Premiership history. In the dying minutes of time added on, the 17-year-old Italian turned neatly in the Aston Villa area and curled a beautiful effort past Brad Friedel. Quite a way to announce yourself to your fans. Pinpointed as one of the moments of the season, the goal and the result kick-started United’s stuttering form and helped them withstand the pressures of a charging Liverpool to retain the title.
5. Man Utd vs Arsenal (September 2003)
Sometimes even the gift of time is not enough for Manchester United to steal a victory. A bad-tempered affair at Old Trafford had already seen Patrick Vieira dismissed for kicking out at Ruud van Nistelrooy so when an injury time penalty was awarded for an innocuous Martin Keown foul on Diego Forlan, Wenger’s Arsenal were seething. Hence the reaction as the long-faced Dutchman hammered the spot kick back off David Seaman’s crossbar. The Gunners players jumped all over the United striker in some particularly ugly scenes. But then again, any scenes involving Martin Keown are seldom pretty.