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Ranked! Manchester United’s 10 greatest European performances since 1990

Manchester United PSG
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5. Manchester United 4-0 Porto, 1997

Portuguese side Porto had taken 16 points from a possible 18 in the group stages and were among the favourites for the competition, but were demolished by an Eric Cantona-inspired United in the quarter-finals.

David Beckham and Ryan Giggs played wide, with Cantona, Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all in the starting line-up. That attacking intent was rewarded. First, David May bundled in from close range, before Cantona seized on a defensive mistake to fire past keeper Hilario and make it 2-0.

In the second half, Cantona started a counter-attack with a delicious outside-of-the-foot pass down the line for Cole, who fed Giggs to fire in. Cantona then released Cole with a beautifully weighted pass to add a fourth. Although United fell to Borussia Dortmund in the next round, it was a performance that set the tone for many European nights to come.

4. Manchester United 4-0 Milan, 2010

David Beckham returned to Old Trafford as an opposition player, but was powerless to stop his Milan side – also featuring Andrea Pirlo and Ronaldinho – being swept away by an imperious United in this last-16 clash.

Ferguson’s men had won the first leg 3-2 in San Siro, and took control here thanks to another masterclass from Wayne Rooney, who’d scored twice in the first leg. He headed in a trademark cross from deep by Gary Neville, then poked home after great work down the left-hand side by Nani. Park added a third, and Darren Fletcher a fourth to take United into the next round.

3. Manchester United 7-1 Roma, 2007

Alex Ferguson has said that this was United’s best performance in Europe under his management, and it’s easy to see why. Roma had won the first leg 2-1, but were absolutely demolished in the second leg, in one of United’s most memorable displays.

The home side were 4-0 up by half-time. Michael Carrick had opened the scoring after 11 minutes with a no-backlift curler of which Ronaldinho would have been proud, before Alan Smith, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo joined the fun.

The Portuguese winger was a constant menace, and could have scored several more. In the end it was just two - a second shortly after half-time, before another stunning long-range strike from Carrick made it 6-0. Daniele De Rossi - beyond furious by this point - pulled one back with a fine volley, before Patrice Evra’s deflected strike made it seven. A dazzling win.

2. PSG 1-3 Manchester United, 2019 

Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done very little wrong during his tenure as United boss, but a 2-0 home defeat by PSG in the first leg of their last-16 clash was a rare blot on the Norwegian's copybook. In fairness to Solskjaer, the French side's comfortable victory at Old Trafford last month evidenced a gulf in class which has been steadily widening over the last few years.

Or so it seemed. Few gave United a chance in the return fixture at the Parc des Princes, but the ever-cheery Solskjaer had a twinkle in his eye before the game. "I don’t want to call it strange, but last year Juventus lost 3-0 at home against Real Madrid and suddenly they were 3-0 up after 90 minutes against Madrid away," he said, before concluding more ominously: "The year before that, PSG against Barcelona."

And so things came to pass on a memorable night in Paris. No side – in 106 previous matches – had ever lost 2-0 at home in the first leg of European competition and gone on to win the tie. But two first-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford's stoppage-time penalty - awarded by the VAR for handball in controversial circumstances - completed one of the most remarkable comebacks in the club's history. "We can go all the way [now]," Solskjaer grinned post-match. 

1. Juventus 2-3 Manchester United, 1999

Manchester United had escaped from Old Trafford with a 1-1 draw thanks to a late Ryan Giggs goal, but were 2-0 down inside 11 minutes in the second leg of the semi-final in Turin. Their treble dreams seemed to be in tatters.

Pippo Inzaghi had scrambled home from a Zinedine Zidane cross, then benefited from a lucky deflection off Jaap Stam as the ball looped over Peter Schmeichel and into the far corner. But then came the fightback. First, Roy Keane rising above Zidane to flick home a header from a corner. “A captain’s goal,” is how Clive Tyldesley described it (his shrill tones always seemed to add an extra layer of drama to these occasions).

From then on, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke took over. Their seemingly telepathic relationship had already been displayed earlier in the competition against Barcelona, and they were at it again here.

After 34 minutes, Cole crossed for Yorke to head home an equaliser which put United in the final on away goals. United hit both posts as they hit the Italian side on the break, before Cole finally sealed the tie - tapping in from a tight angle after Yorke had rounded the keeper and been brought down. It was an incredible comeback – and there was another one still to come.

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