Sir Alex Ferguson: Ten significant matches - Part two

Ferguson: Ten significant matches - Part two
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Having guided Manchester United back to the top of English football, Sir Alex Ferguson's next task was re-establishing the Red Devils as a European force. In part two Sports Mole what matches made that happen.

The first decade of Sir Alex Ferguson's reign at Old Trafford was all about establishing Manchester United as one of the powerhouses of English football for the first time since the 1960s, as highlighted in part one of this series.

Now, the next 15 years would all be about maintaining their position as the team to beat, both domestically and in the European game.

Taking that into account, the second instalment of this feature from Sports Mole has revealed how the Scot went about securing his legendary status.

6. Liverpool - FA Cup final - Saturday, May 11 1996

While some remember this meeting for Liverpool's infamous white suits, others will recall that this victory saw United become the first team to claim a league and cup double on two occasions. Like so many matches during that season, Ferguson would be indebted to Eric Cantona, who struck five minutes from time following a poor clearance from David James. The victory also saw the Red Devils become the most successful club in the history of the FA Cup, having lifted the famous old trophy on nine occasions.

7. Bayern Munich - Champions League final - Wednesday, May 26 1999

Ferguson's men embarked on the Nou Camp with the target of completing a trophy haul that no other English side had ever managed. Having already secured the Premier League and FA Cup trophies, German champions Bayern Munich were all that stood in the way of United completing a unique treble. Mario Basler put Bayern ahead in the sixth minute, and as the clock ticked past the 90-minute mark, his strike looked to be the winning one. However, substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer found the net in stoppage time to wrestle the big trophy from Bayern's clutches in the most dramatic fashion. The win not only ended the club's 31-year wait for Europe's top prize, but also earned the manager his knighthood.

8. Wigan Athletic - League Cup final - Sunday, February 26 2006

Ordinarily, a comfortable 4-0 victory over newly-promoted Wigan Athletic in the Carling Cup final would not live long in the memory. On this occasion though, the trophy success, made possible courtesy of goals from Wayne Rooney (2), Louis Saha and Cristiano Ronaldo, would hold more significance than normal. For the likes of Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Ji-Sung Park, the winners' medal would be the first they had achieved since they had joined the club. Ferguson had been there and done it, but for his youthful squad the taste of triumph would prove to be invaluable.

9. Chelsea - Champions League final - Wednesday, May 21 2008

Having held off a challenge from Chelsea to claim the league title in the same season, Ferguson would have to mastermind another victory against the Blues to secure the second European Cup win of his managerial career. Ronaldo headed United in front at a wet Luzhniki Stadium, only for Frank Lampard to draw Chelsea level before the break. With neither side able to find a winning goal, the match headed to a penalty shoot-out. Blues' skipper John Terry slipped as he went to take his what could have been a trophy winning spot-kick, before Edwin van der Sar parried away Nicolas Anelka's effort to clinch the trophy for United. Ferguson had always claimed that to be considered a great manager, you must win the Champions League twice. Now he had.

10. Blackburn Rovers - Premier League - Saturday, May 14 2011

The game itself has been easily forgotten, but its importance ranks as high as one of the most significant in United's history. A penalty from Rooney cancelled out Brett Emerton's opener for Rovers, and in doing so secured the Red Devils' 19th league title - taking them one clear of Liverpool and making them the most successful team in domestic history. When Ferguson took over from Ron Atkinson, he insisted that he would knock the Merseyside club "off their perch". Many sniggered at the time. Their not sniggering now.

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