Friday 15 December 2017

It's 20 years since Eric Cantona's strike against Newcastle altered the course of the title race

Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Today marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most significant goals in Premier League history.

One of the most thrilling and unpredictable Premier League title races was in full flow as Manchester United travelled to Newcastle’s St James’ Park to take on the title favourites in front of a raucous crowd.

Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle held a 12-point lead at the top of the table in February, but Alex Ferguson’s United were clawing their way back into contention ahead of a game that was described as a title decider.

What followed was a night of drama that is etched into the memories of Geordies for all the wrong reasons, with United fans cherishing the occasions as the moment when their side took a giant step towards title glory.

Peter Schmeichel’s inspired display in the United goal denied a Newcastle side that spurned a host of chances until Eric Cantona came up with an iconic strike to win the game for the visitors.

A few weeks later, we were witnessing Keegan’s famous meltdown live on TV and United went on to win a Premier League and FA Cup double.

After starting the season with Match of the Day pundit warning Ferguson and his team that “you win nothing with kids”, a youthful United team featuring new stars David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville provided the ultimate repost.

As for Newcastle, they have never got close to winning the Premier League title in the two decades since. How they wish they could replay this fixture all over again.

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