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Manchester United 2010s All-Decade Awards: Goal of the Decade

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Volleys and solo runs and bicycle kicks and counter attacks

Manchester United v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Wayne Rooney vs. Manchester City, 2010/11

Rooney’s goal was ranked as the best Premier League goal of all time when the league celebrated its 25th anniversary but that’s not even what made this great. No, this was all about the context.

Rooney had gotten off to a rough start in 2010/11. He had a personal scandal, an ankle injury, and an ugly contract dispute that resulted in a transfer request and a link to joining City. City were still just the noisy neighbors but this season they were knocking on the door louder than ever. Only five points separated the leaders United from third place City.

What followed was one of the most tense derbies I’ve ever seen. When David Silva equalized in the second half, it felt like the tide was turning. This was going City’s way, they were going to cut United’s lead at the top to two points. It was going to be a dogfight.

Then Wayne Rooney went ahead and did this.

Rooney adjusts brilliantly and smashes it into the top corner. Some may say he shinned it, but there’s no denying that he hit it the ball exactly where it needed to go. The ferocity of the strike perfectly encapsulates all the best parts of Rooney’s game, and came at the right time for him to shed the negativity from the first half of the campaign and spark a run of form that would lead United to a record setting 19th Premier League title.

The skill is great but what puts this over the top is the statement. Not yet, City. Your time may be coming, but our time isn’t finished yet. We’re still the big brother, and this is still our title.

Robin Van Persie vs. Aston Villa, 2012/13

This goal may be more art than football.

After an incredible debut campaign, there seemed to be little Robin van Persie could do to top his already stellar 2012/13 season at Manchester United. Going up against Aston Villa, United needed just 3 points to seal a 20th Premier League title. The Dutchman put United up 1-0, and it seemed only a matter of time. However, instead of putting things on cruise control, United would produce one of the greatest goals ever scored in the history of the club.

Villa gave the ball away in United’s half, Shinji Kagawa quickly found Rooney near the half way line, who looked up, saw Van Persie, and immediately hit a beautiful long ball into his path. Van Persie ran onto it, and hit it first time past a helpless Brad Guzan.

The goal perfectly encapsulated Van Persie’s brilliant debut season, and sent Sir Alex Ferguson riding off into the sunset with an incredible 13th Premier League title.

Nani vs. Arsenal, 2009/10

Nani didn’t have the longevity in his Manchester United career that many hoped, but his few years at the top were full of memorable moments. He scored plenty of screamers, but maybe his most remarkable goal came from a solo effort at the Emirates in 2010.

It was a game in which Nani and Wayne Rooney stole the show. Rooney’s goal was a classic United team counter attacking goal, one which still trends on Red Devils Twitter, but Nani’s was a show of individual brilliance that demonstrated his individual skill and extraordinary creativity that can be easily forgotten sometimes.

He got the ball on the wing, isolated by Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri, but managed to skip in between the two, beat another man, and then loft a sensational chip over Manuel Almunia into the far side of the goal. The angle was ridiculous for such an attempt, and Almunia got a slight touch on it, leading stat keepers to chalk it up as an own goal, but it was all Nani’s work.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan vs. Sunderland, 2016/17

It was a short and largely unremarkable career at Old Trafford for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. As one of José Mourinho’s first signings, and coming off of a Bundesliga Player of the Season campaign, there were high expectations for the new playmaker. It took awhile for him to get his chance, but after some impressive cup and Europa League outings, Mkhitaryan finally worked his way into the starting lineup.

In a somewhat routine win over a severely struggling Sunderland side Mkhitaryan produced by far the most memorable moment of his United career, a sublime scorpion kick off of a Zlatan Ibrahimović cross.

Maybe the least important goal on this list, but it’s surely one of the most spectacular goals scored at Old Trafford in some time. Great showmanship from Mkhitaryan, who despite his faults, certainly had his moments as a player.

Juan Mata vs. Liverpool, 2014/15

It’d be one thing to just score on a semi-bicycle kick. It’s another thing to do it against Liverpool. It’s a whole other level when you do it at Anfield. That’s exactly what Juan Mata did in 2015.

There’s a lot to remember about this game. Brendan Rodgers famously dropped Steven Gerrard in his final home game against United only to bring him on at halftime. Gerrard’s time on the pitch lasted less than a minute before he was sent walking. That seemed like it was going to be the story of the second half, but then Mata had his moment of magic.

A chip into space by Ángel Di María (remember him?) was just behind Mata, but the Spaniard adjusted brilliantly, volleying it past Simon Mignolet to double United’s advantage and leave an already frustrated Anfield stunned speechless.

The goal gave United their fourth win in a row, a run that would reach six with a win over City and was crucial in United finishing in the top four that season.

Anthony Martial vs. Everton, 2015/16

This goal is perhaps greater for the moment than for the sheer quality of the goal, but the quality certainly helped it stand out in a season often bereft of it.

In the semi-final of the FA Cup at Wembley United were level with Everton at 1-1 going into the final minutes. Despite United taking the lead and looking the better team, Everton launched a series of attacks in the second half that eventually broke down a stellar David De Gea through a Chris Smalling own goal.

With stoppage time running out, young Anthony Martial took matters into his own hands. He picked up the ball on the left-wing, and orchestrated a series of exchanges to sneak through the Everton defense. Ander Herrera nearly slipped, but managed to play the final through ball to the Frenchman, who slotted it past Joel Robles.

The red half of the stadium erupted, and Martial and co. went into their arms to celebrate. For many the FA Cup isn’t as sought after as it once was, but for a team starved of success and quality for most of the 3 post-Fergie years up to that point it was a fantastic run led by bright young talents and aging legends. Another late winner in the final by Jesse Lingard sealed the deal, giving United their first trophy since The Boss’ retirement.

Poll

Manchester United’s Best Goal of the Decade?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Wayne Rooney Overhead Kick vs. Manchester City, 2011
    (82 votes)
  • 19%
    Robin Van Persie Volley vs. Aston Villa, 2013
    (24 votes)
  • 3%
    Nani Solo Goal vs. Arsenal, 2010
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Henrikh Mkhitaryan Scorpion Kick vs. Sunderland, 2016
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Juan Mata Scissor Kick vs. Liverpool, 2015
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Anthony Martial vs. Everton, 2016
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Rooney Midfield Volley vs. West Ham, 2014
    (0 votes)
  • 5%
    Marcus Rashford Free Kick vs. Chelsea, 2019
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (Describe in Comments)
    (0 votes)
125 votes total Vote Now