On This Day in Football History – April 24: Torres Sinks Barça, Rooney’s Amazing Volley & King Kanu

​Barbara Streisand was born on this day.

UK Minority Status was given to Cornish people on this day.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit on this day.

Spain declared war on the United States on this day.

But the truth is, neither you nor I give a monkey’s about any of that. That’s not why you’re here, that’s not why I’m here. We’re both here for football. 

So football is what you’ll get.


Newton Heath Become Manchester United – 1902


You know those green and gold scarfs you see ​Manchester United fans waving around inside Old Trafford? While the club may have rocked a retro version of those colours in more recent kits, but they actually stem back to the club’s humble beginnings, under the name Newton Heath.

Known, in full, as Newton Heath LYR Football Club when they were formed in 1878, the club’s successes back then were not quite on the level they are today. 

Now those colours are seen as an ode to the club’s history and heritage, as well as means to oppose the current Glazer owners. A historic day for the world’s biggest football club.


Stuart Pearce’s Birthday – 1962

One of football’s true ‘hardmen’ turns 58 on this day, and while he won a few trophies in his time and played for some big clubs, the first thing anyone will think of when you say his name is always going to be ‘penalties’.

Whether that’s his infamous effort in Italia ’90, or the redemption six years on, it’s spot-kicks that will forever be intertwined with Stuart Pearce’s name.

We’ll focus on the positive ones, though, since it is his birthday after all. Against Spain in the quarter-finals, Pearce opted to banish his demons from six years ago by imagining they were a ball and kicking the living s**t out of them. Oh my, how he did. 

Happy birthday, Psycho.


Kanu’s Backheel Against Middlesbrough – 1999


The first-ever ​Arsenal match I attended was an away clash at the Riverside, with Robert Pires scoring the only goal in 2005 in a rather drab affair. If only it had been this game, instead. This was much more entertaining.

While seven goals in any football match makes for great viewing, when one strike, in particular, is added to a player’s YouTube montage, you know it’s been a cracking encounter. 

Chasing the ​Premier League title – which they’d eventually miss out on – Arsenal travelled to Middlesbrough and wiped the floor with their Teeside opponents, running out 6-1 winners. The most memorable moment from the game, however, was the Gunners’ fifth of the day- and one of Kanu’s best.

And audacious backheeled flick was coolness personified, as well as technique executed to a tee. Cracking goal.


Wayne Rooney’s Volley Against Newcastle – 2005

Wayne Rooney

When you can hit a ball extremely hard, that’s beneficial. However, when you can hit a ball extremely hard and accurately, you’re going places.

Wayne Rooney was one such guy, and against ​Newcastle in 2005 he hit one of the angriest volleys you’re likely to see. He absolutely walloped the ball with such ferocity he almost took the net off.

No wonder it won the Goal of the Season award that year.


Man Utd’s Comeback Win Over AC Milan – 2007

Remember back in 2007, when Milan were actually good? Actually, remember when United were good too?

Seeing these two in the latter stages of the ​Champions League was a common occurrence, and a semi-final first leg clash between the two at Old Trafford produced a memorable match in the competition. Cristiano Ronaldo’s sixth-minute goal set the tone, but a pair of Kaka strikes put the visitors in control.

That man Rooney stepped up to do the business, though, scoring 30 minutes from time and then again in injury time to give the hosts hope heading into the second leg. Unfortunately, it mattered for little, as ​Milan won 3-0 then beat Liverpool in the final. Oh well.


Fernando Torres Send Gary Neville Bonkers (And Peter Drury Too) – 2012

What’s more iconic? The fact that Fernando Torres couldn’t be bothered to track back and help his Chelsea teammates defend their lead against Barcelona, or that his laziness presented him with the chance to score a goal that had Gary Neville on the verge of ripping his clothes off?

You can decide that yourselves, but the unnerving groan from Neville after Torres scored ​Chelsea‘s second of their 2-2 semi-final second-leg draw at Camp Nou will live long in the memory. The ten men fought their way into the Champions League final, once again overcoming the odds to beat Bayern Munich.

It was a special moment, to be fair to Neville, and one of the greatest nights in the Blues’ history. What a game of football that was.


Robert Lewandowski Hits Four Past Real Madrid – 2013


Some players are just born to score goals, but not all players are Robert Lewandowski. The Pole was having one of ‘his’ days seven years ago, as he wiped the floor with ​Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final, doing just enough to ensure a second-leg fightback from Los Blancos wasn’t enough.

His third goal is the pick of the bunch, with utterly sublime control and innovation leaving the Madrid defence stranded. A drag-back in the box opened the space for him to have a pop at goal, and without looking up even once, he leathered a rocket into the top corner to complete his hat-trick – ​Borussia Dortmund going on to win 4-1.

Look at Xabi Alonso’s reaction in the video as well, you can feel the rage. But not quite as much as you can feel sheer brute force of Lewandowski’s shot.


Leicester Restore 8-Point Lead – 2016

FBL-ENG-PR-LEICESTER-SWANSEA

At this point Leicester were so, so close to lifting a maiden Premier League crown and with only four matches of the season left, knew victory over Swansea at the King Power would have the league within their grasp.

They had to do so without Jamie Vardy, however, who was suspended for the game against the Swans. Did it matter? Not one iota.

Riyad Mahrez opened the scoring but Leonardo Ulloa’s double had the ​Foxes in cruise control. A Marc Albrighton strike capped off another fine day of work, leaving Claudio Ranieri’s side needing just a maximum of five more points to win the title for the first time in their history.

They did, in case you were unaware.


Mohamed Salah Masterclass Gives Liverpool Upper Hand – 2018

Granted, they were his former club, but how can you keep your composure after scoring an utterly sublime goal in a Champions League semi-final? Only ​Mohamed Salah will know.

His opener wasn’t the only contribution he made in the 5-2 win over Roma, though, assisting two other and scoring another fabulous goal by chipping soon-to-be teammates Alisson Becker.

Two late goals from the Serie A side had given them hope, and they came close to overturning the deficit with a 4-2 win in the second leg. It was a barmy tie, but one where Salah shone.


Arsenal Miss Chance to Go Fourth With Wolves Loss – 2019

It was well within the Gunners’ grasp to return to the Champions League last season, with their final run-in significantly smoother than their fellow rivals who were challenging for a top four place.

What a shame it was for the club then that their form was utterly woeful and scraping even a point during the final matches of the season was such a struggle. That isn’t to take anything away from ​Wolves that term, who blew their visitors – and countless others – away at Molineux with three first half goals to prevent Arsenal from sneaking into the top four.

Ruben Neves ran the show on the day, with goals from Matt Doherty and Diogo Jota seeing Nuno Espirito Santo’s side cruise to a 3-1 win. A really bad day for Unai Emery’s side, whereas Wolves recorded their first win over the Gunners in 40 years.


For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!  

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