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“I kept them invincible”: Ruud van Nistelrooy on that penalty miss

“I kept them invincible”: Ruud van Nistelrooy on that penalty miss


EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS: Ruud van Nistelrooy, Manager of PSV Eindhoven, looks on prior to kick off of the UEFA Europa League group A match between PSV Eindhoven and FC Zürich at Phillips Stadium on October 13, 2022. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS: Ruud van Nistelrooy, Manager of PSV Eindhoven, looks on prior to kick off of the UEFA Europa League group A match between PSV Eindhoven and FC Zürich at Phillips Stadium on October 13, 2022. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Arsenal have a big game in the Europa League on Thursday night, with the chance to secure progression to the knockout stages and leave themselves in pole position to win the group if they can beat PSV.

To add some extra spice to proceedings, the visiting PSV team are managed by former Manchester United man Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Van Nistelrooy is probably best known in Arsenal circles for that match at Old Trafford in 2003/04, where he was involved in a couple of controversial refereeing decisions before missing a penalty.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, van Nistelrooy joked that he’s expecting the Arsenal fans to pay tribute to him for that incident.

“The pressure is there, both teams know you face each other and you’re competing for the Premiership,” van Nistelrooy recalled. “It’s possible it (the league champion) will be decided over these games.

“Of course, the penalty miss, that’s why I expect a warm welcome tomorrow. I kept them invincible!”

MANCHESTER - DECEMBER 11: Ruud Van Nistelrooy of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his first goal during the Manchester United v Deportivo La Coruna UEFA Champions League, Phase 2, Group D match at Old Trafford on December 11, 2002 in Manchester, England. Manchester United won the match 2-0. (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER: Ruud Van Nistelrooy of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his first goal during the Manchester United v Deportivo La Coruna UEFA Champions League, Phase 2, Group D match at Old Trafford on December 11, 2002. (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images)

It’s certainly true that Arsenal would have struggled to avoid defeat if van Nistelrooy had scored in the 90th minute against Arsenal’s 10 men at Old Trafford.

But any great team has moments when things could have gone against them and didn’t.

When you’re part of such an impressive team, and you keep your biggest rivals at bay until the 90th minute in front of their fans, perhaps you earn that bit of luck. Maybe it all plays into van Nistelrooy’s nerves as he steps up to the spot.

Either way, the United striker didn’t score the goal, and Arsenal did complete the season without losing a single Premier League game.





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