Defour finally dazzles at Old Trafford
Set-piece specialist Steven Defour revealed that he was almost denied his moment of glory in the 2-2 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Burnley’s one-time record capture recalled how Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who was also stood over the ball, had put forward his case to take the free kick in the 35th minute after Ashley Young had brought down Scott Arfield.
That was until Nemanja Matic intervened and Defour was able to sweep the ball over the wall and in to the top corner, out of the reach of David De Gea, to give the Clarets a two-goal lead.
Once upon a time the Belgian midfielder was hoping to enjoy occasions like that on a more regular basis at the Theatre of Dreams.
The 29-year-old was being heavily tracked by legendary Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson when plying his trade with Standard Liege in his homeland.
However, the former Porto and Anderlecht star shattered a metatarsal in his right foot ahead of his Champions League debut and Defour’s dreams were crushed as his career was left hanging in the balance.
But the Mechelen-born maestro, who received a letter of sympathy off “Fergie”, was finally able to impress the 75-year-old Scot.
“I was discussing it with Johann just before,” he said.
“We were watching the wall and Johann said he could get it across the wall but then Matic just stepped to the right and I said ‘you can’t get it, let me take it’ and it went straight in.
“It is (a special moment), but you only look at that after. For me at that time, it was like any other goal.
“I don’t score a lot of goals, so I’m always happy to score.”
Sean Dyche’s side went within minutes of securing a famous win over the 20-time English champions until substitute Jesse Lingard netted his second of the Boxing Day clash in time added on.
Defour, though, was delighted with the display. He said: “We fought all game. Especially in the first half we played very well.
“In the second half, of course United had to put on pressure and take a lot of risk and they were rewarded at the very end.
“United played a bit slowly in the first half, which gave us a chance to play and we tried to do that.
“We were good, scored an early goal and had the game under control.
“United also have qualities and they got the goal at the end but that doesn’t change the way we performed. I think we performed well.
“That was the right way to respond and I hope we can get another positive result at Huddersfield.”