1. Denis Law vs Manchester United
Christened the King of Old Trafford, Law scored 236 goals in 11 years for the Red Devils. Having returned across Manchester to previous club City, he backheeled the winner against the Red Devils in the penultimate game of the 1973/74 season, as United were relegated to the second tier of English football.
The Reds would have gone down regardless, but Law wasn't to know. Obviously distressed, he was immediately substituted as United fans invaded the pitch in the hope that the game would be cancelled. They got their intended outcome, but the League decided that the result should stand.
Law retired after making one appearance for Scotland in the 1974 World Cup. “I was inconsolable,” he said in a recent interview. “I didn’t want it to happen. How long did the feeling last? How long ago was the game? Thirty-odd years. There's your answer. The subject always crops up. It’s one of those things. It’s always there and I'm always remembered for it. That’s a shame.”
2. Gary McAllister vs Coventry
McAllister was probably pondering which hobbies to take up post-retirement, with his best years seemingly behind him at the age of 35. All that changed when Liverpool expressed their interest. “This is fairy tale stuff for someone at my stage of life,” said McAllister. “It did surprise me when Liverpool came in for me.”
Signed by Gerard Houllier on a free transfer in 2000, the midfielder enjoyed a successful two-year spell at Anfield. During his first year he featured prominently, scoring crucial goals against the likes of Barcelona and Everton. But at the end of the season, he practically sent former side Coventry down into Division One when he scored a spectacular free-kick from 30 yards. McAllister was visibly upset after his goal helped leave Coventry – with whom he played for four seasons from 1996-2000 – five points from safety with two games to go. His contribution to Liverpool’s memorable treble - FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup - will be forever remembered more happily.
- ONE-ON-ONE Gary McAllister, One-on-One: 'Vinnie Jones showed me around Leeds in a limo – and I was replacing him'
3. Cristiano Ronaldo vs Manchester United
He was and still is adored by many at Manchester United, and the Portuguese received one of the greatest receptions Old Trafford has ever heard upon his return with Real Madrid.
After a goal apiece at the Bernabeu, the scene was set for the return leg – Mourinho versus Ferguson, Ronaldo versus United. Despite a placid first half, the tie sparked into life in the second period as a Sergio Ramos own goal gave United the initiative. But a controversial decision to send Nani off for a high challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa was the turning point, and quickly swung the tie the other way. A goal apiece from Luka Modric and Ronaldo ensured victory for the Spaniards and dumped the Portuguese’s former side out of the Champions League in what would prove to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s last European game in charge.
4. Fernando Morientes vs Real Madrid
Not part of Madrid’s plans at the start of the 2003/04 season, Morientes was loaned to ambitious Ligue 1 side Monaco. As it happened, the French club were paired with Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals, after seeing off Lokomotiv Moscow in the last 16. Monaco lost the first leg 4-2 at the Bernabeu, with Morientes scoring what seemed like a consolation six minutes from time.
They didn’t fare much better in the early stages of the return leg, as a goal from Raul gave the Galacticos a commanding 5-2 aggregate lead. But the early setback only spurred on the hosts as they hit back, spearheaded by their on-loan Madrid man. Ludovic Giuly drove home Monaco's first from a Morientes assist, before the Spaniard turned goalscorer with superb header. A brilliant Giuly backheel gave Monaco a 3-1 win on the night, levelling the scores at 5-5 to dump Madrid out on away goals.
Los Blancos coach Carlos Queiroz refused to blame the result on a suspended David Beckham. “It was a disastrous result for us,” he said. “Of course we missed Beckham but you can’t pin this down to the absence of one player.”
5. Yoan Gouffran vs Caen
Going into the final game of the 2008/09 season, Bordeaux knew that a win over struggling Caen would clinch the Ligue 1 title. They also knew that doing so could relegate their threatened opposition, who sat outside of the bottom three only on goal difference.
Bordeuax did win, 1-0, with the solitary goal scored by former Caen academy graduate and current Newcastle man Gouffran. Disastrously for his old side, though, fellow drop-dodgers Saint-Etienne stuck four past Valenciennes to stay up. “I feel really sad for the fans and my former team-mates,” said Gouffran, who spent five seasons with the northern side. “Will I be celebrating the title win? Maybe tomorrow or when we get back to Bordeaux, but not here and not tonight. I just can’t.”
Caen bounced straight back the following season.
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