On this day in 2002: Ruud van Nistelrooy strike sinks Middlesbrough | Barclays Premier League

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Wednesday 03 September 2014

On this day in 2002: Van Nistelrooy strike sinks Boro

Looking back at Premier League history, we when the Dutch forward earned Man Utd victory

  • Ruud van Nistelrooy converts the first of 44 goals in all competitions for Man Utd that season

Premierleague.com rifles through the annals of the Barclays Premier League to find significant events.

3 September 2002 - Manchester United 1-0 Middlesbrough

Ruud van Nistelrooy converted a first half penalty to earn Manchester United their first Barclays Premier League win in three matches.

Van Nistelrooy's 28th-minute strike, his first top flight goal of the season, was enough to lift United up to fourth in the table and drop Boro a place to 10th.

The visitors had done the double over United the previous season but they did not come close to repeating their Old Trafford victory and rarely troubled goalkeeper Fabien Barthez on his first appearance of the campaign.

United had few chances until they scored. Van Nistelrooy was pulled back by Ugo Ehiogu as he chased a lofted pass from Ryan Giggs and the Dutchman held his nerve to hit the resulting spot-kick high into the net.

Giggs had two chances to double the lead but shot just wide on each occasion - the first on the stroke of half-time and the second in the 62nd minute following good approach play by David Beckham and Paul Scholes. Boro rallied and Massimo Maccarone came close before George Boateng's ambitious effort almost beat Barthez.

United substitute Diego Forlan almost made the match safe late on but was denied his first Barclays Premier League goal for the club when Mark Schwarzer saved his header.

"I think we made it hard for ourselves," said Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. "With all the possession we had, the control we had, we really should have finished the opponents off."

Van Nistelrooy's goal was one of 25 he scored in the BPL during the season as the Red Devils won the title. His haul made him the competition's top scorer and won him the Barclays Golden Boot.

In all, he scored 44 goals for United in all competitions during the campaign. His tally included an incredible run, in which he found the net in each of their final 10 matches.

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