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5 Historic Matches at the 'Theatre of Dreams'


Old Trafford is one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world and has played host to some fantastic and monumental moments in football history.

The home of Manchester United first opened in 1910 and has remained the home of this hugely successful team ever since. After bomb damage during the second world war, United were forced to ground share for a period of time with rivals City but returned to Old Trafford when it was ready for them to do so.

The stadium has hosted not only United matches, but also World Cup and European Championship matches in 1966 and 1996 respectively, the Champions League Final in 2003, The Rugby Super League Grand Final, and Olympic football matches in 2012.

However, despite other sports being played there, it is great United matches that are the reason the stadium is nicknamed the 'Theatre of Dreams'.

Here are five of the most historic matches to be played at Old Trafford.

United vs Real Madrid (1957)

This European Cup Semi Final was the first ever match played under floodlights at Old Trafford, as the Busby Babes attempted to overturn a 3-1 deficit from the first leg of the tie.

Unfortunately, they could only manage a 2-2 draw and exited the competition just short of reaching the final. Despite the aggregate defeat, United's young team truly marked their arrival on the big stage and showed they were one of the most talented teams in the world.

Their potential would tragically never be fulfilled, due to the Munich air disaster, but this match will go down in history as one of the best at Old Trafford.

United vs Barcelona (1984)

Having been completely outplayed and beaten 2-0 away in the first leg of this European Cup Winners Cup tie in 1984, United had to produce something special to make it through to the next round.

This they did, with an emphatic display from the team and thanks to one of the greatest individual performances ever from Bryan Robson. The midfielder netted twice and Frank Stapleton scored the other in a 3-0 win which informed the world that United were still a force to reckoned with.

United vs Liverpool (1999)

This match is memorable for a late and dramatic comeback against one of their bitter rivals, and it was also a big moment on the way to winning an historic treble that season.

The FA Cup fourth round tie at Old Trafford in January 1999 didn't start great for United, as Michael Owen put the visitors ahead early on, but an 88th minute equaliser from Dwight Yorke and a stoppage time winner from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ensured United would march on to the last-16 of the cup.

The United team of 1998/99 is considered by most football fans, including the contributors on this Betway blog post, as being one of the greatest to have ever played in the Premier League. This performance against Liverpool showed the 'never say die' attitude that helped them become the dominating force they were.

Manchester United's 1998/99 season

United vs City (2009)

This classic Manchester derby in September 2009 had absolutely everything. Seven goals, a dramatic late winner, an Alex Ferguson touchline dance, and controversy over the fact United's winner came in the sixth minute of stoppage time despite it being shown that only four minutes would be added.

An early Wayne Rooney goal and two from Darren Fletcher had given United the lead three times, with City fighting their way back into the match each time with goals from Gareth Barry and a brace from Craig Bellamy. However, the match would end in dramatic fashion when Michael Owen netted a 96th minute goal to give United a 4-3 win.

England vs Greece (2001)

United may be the reason Old Trafford is known as the 'Theatre of Dreams' but this classic World Cup qualifying encounter will always be remembered for a David Beckham free kick which ensured England would advance to the 2002 tournament.

With Wembley closed down for rebuilding, England took their fixtures on the road and this vital qualifier against Greece took place in Manchester on October 6th, 2001.

England had to avoid defeat to qualify for the World Cup, as a loss would have meant a play off against a tough Ukraine team.

In the 93rd minute, Greece led 2-1 and the play-off looked a certainty. That was until England were awarded a free kick just outside the Greek penalty area and Beckham curled one of his trademark right-foot strikes to net the equaliser and guarantee that England would be headed for the finals in Japan and Korea in the summer of 2002.