On this day: Eric Cantona scores twice on Selhurst Park return

Eric Cantona in action during his Manchester United testimonial match in August 2001.
© Getty Images
Eighteen years ago today, Eric Cantona scored twice as Manchester United beat Wimbledon 4-2 at Selhurst Park.

When Eric Cantona visited Selhurst Park with Manchester United in January 1995, the Frenchman was remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Having been red-carded for a foul on Crystal Palace defender Richard Shaw, the United forward would then face criminal charges for attacking a home supporter who had been abusing him as he left the pitch.

The Football Association saw it fit to punish Cantona with a ban until October of that year, meaning that he was absent from the first six weeks of the 1995-96 campaign.

He marked the end of that suspension with a goal against rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford, before going on to score four more times in the Premier League prior to his return to the scene of the crime 18 years ago today, although on this occasion Wimbledon were the opponents in South London.

Cantona seemed somewhat reserved during the opening exchanges and spent most of the first half on the periphery of proceedings. Not that United were missing his influence, having taken the lead into the break thanks to a header from Andy Cole and an own goal from Wimbledon defender Chris Perry.

Marcus Gayle halved the deficit midway through the second half, but then Cantona came to the fore. He exchanged passes with substitute David Beckham, who crossed from the right for the centre-forward to head beyond the reach of home goalkeeper Neil Sullivan.

The Dons responded for a second time courtesy of Jason Euell, but the match was put out of their reach nine minutes from time thanks to Cantona. Kenny Cunningham was adjudged to have handled inside the area, and the former Leeds United striker stepped up to convert the resultant penalty.

Cantona's performance prompted Wimbledon manager Joe Kinnear to say after the final whistle had been blown: "Cantona drifts in and out of the match, but he is still very effective."

WIMBLEDON: Sullivan; Cunningham, Reeves, Perry, Kimble; Gayle, Leonhardsen, Ardley (Goodman), Talboys; Holdsworth (Euell), Clarke

MAN UNITED: Schmeichel; P Neville, G Neville, Bruce (Beckham), Irwin; Giggs, Butt, Keane, Sharpe; Cantona, Cole

A general view of Upton Park, home of West Ham United on October 15, 2011
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