Scholes vs Villa anniversary: United’s top five festive PL goals

On 23 December 2006, Paul Scholes netted one of Manchester United’s best PL goals of all time when he rifled in a volley against Aston Villa at Villa Park. Ahead of Man Utd facing Aston Villa again this festive period, we look at the five best Man Utd PL goals scored inside the final two weeks of December.

United's top five festive PL goals

Eric Cantona vs Sunderland – 21/12/1996

Not only is this strike from Eric Cantona one of Man Utd' best-ever Christmas goals, but it's also one of the Premier League's most iconic goals of all time. The Elusive Frenchman picked the ball up in midfield, and wiggled past two Sunderland players before playing a one-two- with Brian McLair which gave him the space he needed to execute a delightful chip over the Black Cats goalkeeper.

The ball clipped the top of the post before finding the back of the net and what came next was almost as iconic as the goal itself. Cantona simply turned around, puffed his chest out and scanned the Old Trafford crowd almost to let them know he knew he was as special as they thought he was.

Eric Cantona's goal against Sunderland was a thing of beauty – Photo by Icon Sport

Ryan Giggs vs Nottingham Forest – 26/12/1998

Man Utd played Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day in 1998 with the treble they ended up winning that season not even in their minds. United went into the match on a four-match winless run and needed a win to keep pace with Arsenal at the top of the Premier League.

The Reds weren't at their best on the day but Ryan Giggs' goal in the 3-0 win showed a glimpse of what this team was capable of. After a lovely sweeping move that saw Sheringham and Beckham move the ball through the final third at speed (a novelty for United fans these days), the ball came to Giggs who lobbed it over the onrushing keeper.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Sunderland – 26/12/2007

Cristiano Ronaldo's journey to becoming the best footballer in the world was very much nearing its climax when Man Utd travelled to Sunderland on Boxing Day 2007. Ronaldo was in the form of his life and when United won a free kick 30 yards from a goal in the first half, the Sunderland crowd let out an audible groan.

Their worries were vindicated when Ronaldo stepped up and hit a thunderbolt of a free kick over the wall and past Craig Gordon in the Sunderland goal who could only stand there and watch as the ball hit the top corner of his net.

Wayne Rooney vs Hull City – 26/12/2013

Man Utd's decline had begun when they visited Hull City during the 2013/14 festive period. United's season had been rocky under David Moyes and question marks were being asked about the Scot's suitability in the role.

United found themselves 2-0 down at the KC Stadium before Chris Smalling brought them back into it with a header. Then, just before the break, Wayne Rooney hit a vicious volley from long distance which flew into the back of the net to bring the scoreline back to 2-2.

United's top five festive PL goals
Rooney's cracker against Hull City in 2013 – Photo by Icon Sport

Henrikh Mkhitaryan vs Sunderland – 26/12/2016

Henrikh Mkhitaryan's career in England never really got going but its peak came on Boxing Day in 2016 when Man Utd welcomed Sunderland to Old Trafford. Mkhitaryan had broken into the starting eleven after a turbulent start under Jose Mourinho and his selection was vindicated when he scored what can only be described as a scorpion kick goal late on.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's cross was behind the Armenian but instead of turning and taking a touch he simply flicked his heel backwards, scooping the ball over his head and into the back of the net.

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Andy Delaney

Andy is a freelance Sports Journalist with ten years of experience covering football in the United Kingdom and abroad for various publications including the Manchester Evening News, UtdReport and Football Whispers. Andy also has a keen interest in basketball, cricket, golf and tennis and has covered major sporting events such as the Masters in Augusta.