RAWK Advent Calendar 2014 #22 - Fabio Aurelio vs Manchester United 2009

Posted by Aristotle on December 1, 2014, 02:23:09 PM

There are moments in your life that you carry with you until the day you die. Those special moments where you feel like all the stars in the sky light up just for you. A first kiss. Falling in love. A sibling humiliating itself (but recovering afterwards) so you can bring it up every time they try and impress someone in your presence. Your first car. Your first win. Any number of occasions in your life where you just close your eyes for a second or two, reminisce and somehow the sky is a little brighter, the noise is a little bit lower, the corners of your mouth just a fraction of a millimeter higher up on your face. Any story that starts with "remember when ..." and is always greeted with a smile or a laugh. 

For me and every other Red watching on March 14th 2009 there was such a moment. And what a moment it was. Having previously won at Anfield, the first under Rafa, we went to Old Trafford with hope and optimism. There was something different in the air that day. You couldn't quite put your finger on it but you just knew that today was something special. The kind of gut feeling a title challenge brings. The kind that comes from Gerrard and Torres on the pitch together. Those two were fucking unstoppable as a pair. Oh how we loved them. I don't think I've cared as affectionately about any pair as Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, at their peak, barring my testicles. And on that day that special gut feeling came true. And what a bloody day it was. It was a moment of mind boggling rarity.
We witnessed something rarer than an aligning of the stars to create a double rainbow, under which the love of your life spelled "I love you" with a Leprechaun's pot of gold right before sharing your first kiss. Yes that wonderful bit of magic. That flashbulb moment edged in the back of your brain. That moment that seemed to utterly defy the laws of physics themselves. Was it real. Did that just happen? And the answer, in as short a terms as possible, is yes.

In the space of 90 minutes it felt like we'd just gone through a footballing event horizon. The world around us had been tranformed and we'd come out on the other side of something that had never been experienced. A penalty AND a red card against United, at Old Trafford, with Ferguson on the sidelines, in the same match. After last season's Herculean task accomplished by Mark Clattenburg and his inspired Moyesian voodoo it seems a distant memory. But there was a time where, short of a shotgun blast to the chest and a machete through the cranium, penalties and red cards just weren't given at Old Trafford. We had both. We'd done in 75 minutes what we hadn't done in the previous 5 years combined. It was mindfuckingly glorious on so many levels.

Shoutout to the romantic hug between Gerrard & Torres

But as many might know this game is something special to me. In fact I wrote about it in last season's advent calendar as my favourite game. We scored 4 at Old Trafford and every single one of them hugely memorable.

I could just as easily have gone with Torres dropping Vidic on his arse.

Gerrard kissing the camera after his penalty.

Dossena chipping van der Saar for his 2nd #4 goal in a matter of days.

So no wonder most of you are wondering what the fuck made me go with the Aurelio one? ::)

It's fairly simple. Goals are all about feelings. About emotions. The state of mind you were in when you saw the ball hit the back of the net. A minute earlier Vidic had gone off, again. But there was still nerves. I remember I was on the edge of my seat about to vomit from worries. It was after all just a one goal game. And this was Manchester United, at Old Trafford. They'd already won half a dozen games from a goal down that season and it was anything but sure. They'd just had a player sent off and they looked like they were about to collectively burst a blood vessel from the shock to their system. Then Gerrard steps up. Of course he does. He'd just put his penalty past the GK earlier in this game. He was the one taken down for the free kick. I mean you'd bet your house on him hitting that on target.

Then in a space of about 10-12 seconds the world kind of slowed down. I still remember that numb feeling of confusion. My brain spinning like an owl's neck. Going from "wait, is that Fabio's shot?" to "can't believe he's missed it" upon seeing van der Saar not even move. Yet it hit the back of the net. He scored! And I remember the relief. It wasn't so much excitement as it was relief. For the first time since I remember we'd fucking ended them. It was complete. There was no coming back from that. There were 15 minutes left of the game at Old Trafford and all I could think about was could we get more. Like Vladimir Putin riding a bear whilst dual-wielding twin Kalashnikovs and invading the former Soviet Union, I felt invincible.

In a minute of football it felt like the proverbial monkey had finally been lifted off our backs. A penalty. A red card. A convincing victory. Ferguson's blank stare of death as he chewed on his gum. Reina jumping up in slow motion. That goal just touched the very core of my soul. Of all the moments in that season. Even with all the last minute wins and comebacks at the end. Nothing ever gave me such a serene feeling. It was the victory high of a final whistle with the game still playing.

It. Was. Beautiful.

What can I say. In the end I like the simple things in life.

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