Busby Babes to Class of ’92: MM’s top five… Manchester United’s best second-leg European away performances

Manchester United are not short of memorable European nights and they’ll need another one to knock out Champions League holders Bayern Munich this evening in the Allianz Arena.

With the 1-1 scoreline from the first leg giving Bayern the advantage, United will need to produce a brilliant away performance to see themselves through to the Champions League semi-finals.

A look through the archives however shows history might be on United’s side and MM takes a look back at the best second-leg performances they’ve produced away from home.

5. Red Star Belgrade 3-3 Manchester United, European Cup quarter-final second leg, 1958

This was a trip to Europe that will always be engrained in the fabric of Manchester United for what occurred after it.

The game itself saw a terrific performance from United, who held a 2-1 lead over Belgrade from the first leg.

A trip to Eastern Europe represented something of the unknown and a real test for Matt Busby’s side.

They started the game brilliantly however and streaked into a 3-0 lead after 31 minutes through Denis Viollet and two from Bobby Charlton.

Belgrade came back strong after half time and by the hour mark they were level, trailing on aggregate by just the one goal.

That is how it would stay as Busby’s United progressed to the semi-finals.

However, five of United’s starting eleven that night would not make it to that semi-final as tragedy struck on the way home from Belgrade.

The Munich Air Disaster of 1958 would claim the lives of 20 players, supporters and journalists and tear apart the ‘Busby Babes’.

The crash will always be a defining moment of United history, and ahead of their game in Munich tonight, current players and management visited the memorial at the crash site.

The 3-3 draw in Belgrade was a superb performance and result for the young and brilliant United team that would never be able to realise their true potential.

4. Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United, Champions League semi-final second leg, May 2009

United’s slender 1-0 advantage from the first leg at Old Trafford left them with a job to do at the Emirates in order to progress to their second consecutive Champions League final.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side showed no nerves at all as a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired United ripped through Arsene Wenger’s fragile Gunners.

A mistake from Kieran Gibbs allowed Ji-Sung Park to put United ahead after just eight minutes before a Ronaldo piledriver of a free kick from 40 yards was too hot for Manuel Almunia to handle and the Red Devils were 2-0 up.

A stunning team goal put the game safe just after the hour mark, with Ronaldo rounding off a flowing move from one penalty area to the other to thump past Almunia.

Robin van Persie scored a consolation goal for Arsenal and Darren Fletcher missed the final after being harshly sent off late on.

This was a commanding display by United, full of purpose and intent as they marched into the final, where Ferguson’s men would fall short against Barcelona.


3. Real Madrid 3-3 Manchester United, European Cup semi-final second leg, May 1968

At the time Real Madrid were six-time European champions and were the powerhouse of European football.

George Best’s solitary goal at Old Trafford sent United to the Santiago Bernabeu with the tie firmly in the balance.

Facing Madrid in their own back yard was a daunting prospect and it looked like being a mission too far for Busby’s United when Real powered into a 2-0 lead after 41 minutes of the second leg.

An own-goal by Madrid’s Ignacio Zoco brought United level on aggregate again before Arnancio Amaro put Real 3-2 ahead on aggregate just before half time.

It was to be United’s night though, as David Sadler and Bill Foulkes both struck to seal a 3-3 draw and send Busby’s men through 4-3 on aggregate.

United would go on to win the competition at Wembley with an emphatic 4-1 win over Benfica.

2. Juventus 2-3 Manchester United, Champions League semi-final second leg, April 1999

An added time equaliser from Ryan Giggs at Old Trafford cancelled out Antonio Conte’s first leg opener to ensure United took a 1-1 scoreline to the Stadio delle Alpi.

With Juve’s away goal, United were already facing an uphill battle and when Filippo Inzaghi scored two inside the first eleven minutes, it looked like mission impossible for United.

However, United showed their fighting spirit, epitomised by skipper Roy Keane who was shown a yellow card, ruling him out of a potential final, but responded by pulling one back for his side.

Ten minutes later Dwight Yorke pulled the score level at 3-3 on aggregate and when he rounded the keeper in the second half, Andy Cole was on hand to score the goal that sent United through 4-3 on aggregate.

It was United’s first win in Italy and set up a final with Bayern which would prove to be the final win of their historic treble.


1. Benfica 1-5 Manchester United, European Cup quarter-final second leg, March 1966

This was one of the finest performances ever seen by a British side in Europe against European giants Benfica.

The Portuguese side had won back-to-back European Cups in 1961 and 1962 and had made four European Cup finals in the five years prior to this clash with United.

Busby’s side held a slender advantage after a first leg 3-2 win at Old Trafford.

In Lisbon, United blew Benfica away thanks largely to the brilliance of Best.

Best scored two in 11 minutes to give United control and further strikes from John Connelly, Paddy Crerand and Bobby Charlton wrapped up an emphatic win.

It was a game where Benfica did not get a shot on target, and where United scored with every single shot at goal they attempted.

This was an outstanding away performance and is one of the great wins by a British side abroad.

Image courtesy of ntzq via YouTube, with thanks.

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