Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed Robin van Persie’s volley against Aston Villa as “the goal of the century” as the striker’s hat-trick fired Manchester United to their 20th league title.
After opening the scoring in the second minute with a close-range strike, Van Persie received a raking pass from Wayne Rooney before firing first time past Brad Guzan. The 29-year-old completed his hat-trick before half time.
“It was goal of the century for me,” Sir Alex told reporters. He added: “It was marvellous. It was a magnificent strike. He scored exactly the same goal against Arsenal. He is in his mature years and winning the league tonight meant a lot to him. He’s been unbelievable. I think that he has to take a lot of the credit. I think his goals tell you that, his performance levels told you that.”
Van Persie is now one goal clear of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez in the race for the Golden Boot, while Sir Alex has compared the striker’s impact to Eric Cantona’s time at Old Trafford.
“When you identify a great player coming to the end of his contract, you go for him no matter who,” Ferguson added. He continued: “In terms of impact he has made as big an impact as any player I can imagine.
(Eric) Cantona was an incredible impact player, I’ve had some great strikers, maybe 10 great strikers. “We had an expectation of him. Arsene (Wenger) said he was better than I’d think after I’d done the deal, and he was right. He has never disappointed us.
He has been unbelievable, his early form was fantastic. He had a dry spell, as most strikers do, but he has come back from that and he was unbelievable tonight.”
‘My best goal at Utd’
Meanwhile, the striker has admitted the wonder volley was his best goal for United. And whilst Van Persie accepts there was an element of good fortune about his effort, the former Arsenal man recognises it was a special strike.
“It is hard,” Van Persie told MUTV. He added: “Maybe if you look at the day, the occasion and the importance of the goal it was my best one. You need to be a bit lucky with those goals because most of them go over or wide. That didn’t, which was a big relief.”
PA Sport picks five key games for United en route to reclaiming the championship:
*Sept 2: Southampton 2-3 United
Having already lost their opening game, United could ill afford to slip up again. That was exactly what seemed to be happening as the Red Devils trailed with just three minutes left — but that was just the right time for Robin van Persie to atone for his penalty miss as he struck twice to complete a memorable hat-trick.
*Sept 23: Liverpool 1-2 United
United trailed to 10-man Liverpool when Steven Gerrard struck, but Rafael equalised and, with only minutes left Van Persie scored the winner.
* Oct 28: Chelsea 2-3 United
This was a crazy game at Stamford Bridge as United led early, only for Chelsea to hit back straight after the restart. The dismissals of Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres then killed Chelsea’s hopes, with Javier Hernandez sealing the visitors’ victory.
* Dec 1: Reading 3-4 United
An outrageous game at the Madejski, as Reading led, then United, then Reading again and finally United. The least surprising thing about the game was that Van Persie should get the winner.
*Dec 9: Man City 2-3 United
United approached their task with a steely determination, deservedly surging two goals clear thanks to Wayne Rooney’s double. But City woke from their slumber and when Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta struck, a draw seemed certain. But in injury-time, Van Persie strode up to drive a free-kick into the net.