Nemanja Vidic has labelled his last-gasp match-winner against Sunderland as the most important goal he has scored for Manchester United. He has only scored eight but this one stands out the most.
The raucous celebrations that greeted Vidic's late tap-in after Michael Carrick's long-range shot had been deflected on to a post suggested the resulting 1-0 Barclays Premier League win could be one of the key moments in the entire campaign.
After witnessing Liverpool and Chelsea drop home points unexpectedly over the past fortnight, it would have been a major anti-climax if Sir Alex Ferguson's side had done so as well. If United had then drawn their match it would have left United in bad shape compared to Liverpool and Chelsea. Instead, a squad lacking Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra - and almost certainly Cristiano Ronaldo - will head to Tottenham next Saturday still trailing the top two by six and five points respectively, boasting a game in hand and in relatively good shape.
"How important was it?" asked a smiling Vidic. "Just look at my reaction. It is not my favourite goal - but it is my most important one. At this time in the season, you need to win every game. Sunderland did not make it easy because they defended with 11 men all the time. We didn't have that many clear chances but we never gave up - and in the end, we got our reward."
There was a price to pay, though, Wayne Rooney picked up his fifth booking of the season which rules him out of the White Hart Lane trip along with Evra, who will start what amounts to a five-match ban. More problematic is the hip injury Ronaldo sustained that was so painful the newly-crowned Ballon D'Or winner simply kicked the ball out of play and headed for the tunnel when he realised there was no chance of continuing.....Back To Home Page...