On December 23, 2006, Manchester United scored their 2000th goal under the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, as Cristiano Ronaldo led the way in the 3-0 trouncing of Aston Villa.
United were on top of the Premier League table coming into the game, two points ahead of second-placed Chelsea, who were managed back then by Jose Mourinho. And the Portuguese, known to be an instigator of mind games, had tried their best to make sure the Red Devils felt the pressure going into the game, having proclaimed that there was no way United would be at the top of the table when the Christmas of 2006 came.
Sir Alex, unruffled by everything around him and his team, decided to drop Wayne Rooney in favour of Louis Saha for the game, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Park Ji-Sung occupying the wings in a 4-3-3 setup. The decision to bench Rooney seemed to be backfiring though, as Saha struggled to make a serious impact for most of the first-half.
With the scoreline at 0-0 close to the hour mark, Fergie decided to ring in the changes and was about to send on Rooney, when things took a sudden turn. Ronaldo went on a blitzing 50-yard run before unleashing a strike at goal in the 58th minute. Aston Villa defender Gary Cahill managed to get a block on the effort, only for the Portuguese winger to tuck home the rebound to hand United the lead and in the process, score the club’s 2000th goal under Sir Alex.
Midfielder Paul Scholes soon made it 2-0 with a brilliant strike before Ronaldo completed a double with five minutes left on the clock to seal the three points for the Red Devils.
The win secured United’s place at the top of the table at Christmas and they went on to win the Premier League title – their 16th one, beating Mourinho and his Chelsea side.