A Perfect Ten: A look back at Manchester United legend Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s endangered record

Jamie Vardy’s expertly taken penalty on Saturday against Watford made it nine straight matches in which the Leicester City striker has scored in the Premier League. That leaves the England striker just one game and one goal away from equalling Ruud van Nistelrooy’s ten-in-a-row record, with Newcastle the opponents for the Foxes after the international break. If a goal is scored there then Vardy could break the record a week later against, you guessed it, Manchester United.

With United’s legendary Dutch striker’s record under real threat, it’s time to have a look back at Van Nistelrooy’s stunning run of goals that made him a Premier League record breaker.

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Game One

22nd March 2003 – Manchester United 3-0 Fulham

The Dutch striker’s record was to start in memorable fashion when Fulham came to town towards the end of March 2003 when United were on the title charge.

Van Nistelrooy netted a hat-trick with one of his most memorable United goals, of which there were quite a few, taking place at Old Trafford that day.

The often-labelled fox in the box or goal-poacher, Van Nistelrooy picked up the ball just in the Fulham half and ran past every single Fulham player in front of him before slotting home. This was the start of something special.

Game Two

5th April 2003 – Manchester United 4-0 Liverpool

The old enemy were the next club to feel the wrath of Ruud as Liverpool visited Manchester trying to knock United off their title challenge.

It wasn’t to be for the Merseysiders as they met a United side hitting their stride. There would be no run from half-way for United’s number ten this week, but two 18-yard strikes.

A penalty in either half from Van Nistelrooy helped United to a 4-0 win and a signal of intent for both player and club.

Game Three

12th April 2003 – Newcastle United 2-6 Manchester United

Newcastle go on to be prominent in this run for the Dutchman, as two trips to St James’ Park are included.

The Red Devils netted six times in the North East in April 2003 against a team that would go on to finish third in the Premier League that season.

It was once more a penalty that saw Van Nistelrooy make an imprint on the score-sheet, while a Paul Scholes hat-trick and goals from Ryan Giggs and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer helped towards a magnificent victory.

Three in three for Ruud.

Game Four

16th April 2003 – Arsenal 2-2 Manchester United

In a string of tough looking fixtures for the Old Trafford club next up was a trip to Highbury where they dropped their last points of the season.

This did not stop Van Nistelrooy from doing what he does best and that’s scoring goals and scoring them when his club need them most.

It was Ruud that opened the scoring at Highbury in a potentially title-deciding clash, but it was the Dutchman’s opener that helped United to a draw against their title challengers.

Game Five

19th April 2003 – Manchester United 3-1 Blackburn Rovers

It was another opener for Van Nistelrooy as Blackburn Rovers visited Old Trafford just three days after United’s tricky encounter in North London.

The former PSV star opened the scoring within 20 minutes as United went on to win 3-1 against the Lancashire club.

Game Six

27th April 2003 – Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Manchester United

A trip to White Hart Lane really tested Van Nistelrooy’s recent run of form and completed an astounding April wearing the Red Devils’ number ten shirt.

A trip to Tottenham is always tricky for any club, but United’s solidity saw them through.

It took 69 minutes for Paul Scholes to open the scoring, but it wasn’t until the dying moments of the match that Van Nistelrooy popped up once again and doubled United’s lead.

Game Seven

3rd May 2003 – Manchester United 4-1 Charlton Athletic

Charlton Athletic were the sacrificial lambs to slaughter as the final visitors of the 2002/03 season to Old Trafford.

Without a loss in 2003, United looked to entertain their fans with the title ready to be held aloft.
David Beckham opened the scoring before a Charlton equaliser, but United’s big game goal-scorer came up with the goods – and how!

A hat-trick, including two in five minutes in the first half, made it a lucky seven in a row with 12 scored in that time.

Game Eight

11th May 2003 – Everton 1-2 Manchester United

The final game of the 2002/03 season took place at Goodison Park in what proved to be David Beckham’s final game as a United player.

That did not stop Ruud hitting the target, after the England captain’s opener. It was Van Nistelrooy who scored the Red Devil’s final goal of the season – his 13th in eight games.

Game Nine

16th August 2003 – Manchester United 4-0 Bolton Wanderers

One of the impressive things about Van Nistelrooy’s run is that the form continued from the end of one season straight in to the next.

With David Beckham gone, a new number seven was introduced to the Old Trafford crowd in August 2003 as Cristiano Ronaldo made his debut, but before the Portuguese star got his goal-scoring going, it was the Dutchman, with an 87th minute goal, who kept on making the headlines in a 4-0 win against Bolton.

Game Ten

23rd August 2003 – Newcastle United 1-2 Manchester United

Van Nistelrooy then lead the line for United at St James’ Park once again, the same place where Vardy could make it a perfect ten, and the Dutchman delivered.

Business kept rolling for both United and the Dutchman as United’s main man equalised after Alan Shearer had given United the lead.

A perfect ten for one of United’s greatest number tens. Ten games in a row with 15 goals scored in that time. A magnificent achievement that is now in danger of not only being levelled but also overtaken.

Over to you, Jamie.

Read more by Mark Young here!

Follow @markyoung1988

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