Manchester United haven’t seen many changes in their man with the gloves over the past two decades, and have had plenty of luck in the No. 1 position. They’ve always had world-class keepers like Schmeichel, Van der Sar and David de Gea between the sticks who’ve played a key role in making Manchester United a threat to clubs all over the world. And its only obvious with the array of goalkeeping talent at their disposal that we’ll have witnessed plenty of world-class saves in the past couple of decades. So without wasting more time, let’s get started with the sumptuous saves-
Van der Sar vs Anelka – Manchester United vs Chelsea (May 22, 2008)
We start off with “that” glorious night in Moscow. The match went to penalties after a gruelling 1-1 draw and United were leading Chelsea 6-5 in the penalties. Anelka stepped up to take the now-or-never penalty, but this was when the Dutch keeper’s mind games favoured him. He successfully managed to convince Anelka to shoot towards his right after briefly pointing to his left. And then made a spectacular save to win United the Champions League. His save is unarguably one of the best ever penalty saves, and that too at a time when a genius moment was required.
Schmeichel vs Wagner – Manchester United vs Rapid Vienna (1996)
Vienna striker Rene Wagner headed a cross down towards the net with bullet speed but then the Great Dane pulled a rabbit out of his hat as he plunged to his right and pushed the ball over the bar with one hand. The sublime save, which came out of nowhere, earned Schmeichel many plaudits and it is likely to go down in history as one of the best saves ever.
De Gea vs Oviedo – Manchester United vs Everton (October 2014)
In a match which would possibly go down as the Spaniard’s favourite, he denied Baines from the spot in the final stages of the match. If that wasn’t enough, he still had to make a superb save in the dying moments of the game to keep the scores at 2-1 and help his side win all three points. Oviedo’s pile driver was on its course to find its way into the top corner, but De Gea made a spectacular effort to tip the ball over, an effort which won him the Save of the Season Award.
Schmeichel vs Hutchinson – Manchester United vs Liverpool (1992-93)
Every victory was crucial for the United side who were tussling with Aston Villa and Norwich City for the title, and since a defeat at Liverpool had dearly cost them the season before, they didn’t want to repeat that mistake as they came out 2-1 winners on this occasion. Don Hutchinson got a lot of time inside the box to not only collect McManaman’s cross but also smash a thunderous volley goal wards. Schmeichel then made a jaw-dropping save as he somehow managed to drop down to his left and push the ball behind for a corner.
De Gea vs Mata – Manchester United vs Chelsea (February 2012)
A save which he personally feels was the best of his career, the then young keeper made a crucial save to deny his future teammate Mata. United had shown great resilience to come back from three goals down to level 3-3, but Mata’s pinpoint free kick was destined to spoil their day. However, De Gea then produced an unbelievable sight to thwart the fine effort with a super fingertip save.
Schmeichel vs Zamorano – Manchester United vs Inter Milan (1999)
The ‘Star Save’, as they called it, would go down as Schmeichel’s best save of the treble-winning 1999 season. Zamorano headed a dangerous cross into the net but the Dane then made himself as big as possible and managed to stop the ball with his hands. He scrambled towards the goal but clawed the ball away to keep United in the game.
Van Der Sar vs Torres – Manchester United vs Chelsea (2010-11)
He was perturbed with the same question about his best save ever throughout the years, but this was the one he admitted as the one after the 2010-11 season. A mere seven weeks prior to his retirement, the Dutchman somehow managed to save under-fire Torres’ superb header which was directed towards the far end of his post. He spectacularly flung himself and clawed the ball around the upright, and true to his words, he saved his best for the last.