SPORT

Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester United 1993: Lee Sharpe's Double (VIDEO)

23/08/2013 10:50 BST | Updated 23/08/2013 10:59 BST

"A perfect summer's night of football. It should be something of a feast this," beamed Ian Darke, and 20 years on Lee Sharpe still dines out on the banquet that was Aston Villa and Manchester United's captivating encounter at Villa Park in the Premier League.

Richard Keys last month tweeted, "By the pool thinking about these games. Liverpool 4 Newc 3 definitely in!" He may now be with Al-Jazeera, but the Partridge disciple continues to endorse Sky's obsession with that 1996 tussle, even though the list of superior fixtures before or after comfortably pass double-figures.

One of those fixtures was Villa and United's ding dong in the midlands in 1993. Enhanced by the twilight setting and United debuting their immortal black kit, they were also the two best teams in the country.

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Lee Sharpe celebrates his winner with Giggs, Kanchelskis and friends

Villa, managed by Ron Atkinson, finished second to United, champions for the first time in 26 years, three months earlier and boasted an enviably experienced team. Villa's Paul McGrath was Player of the Year and Ryan Giggs was Young Player of the Year.

And Alex Ferguson was overseeing the completion of his first great Reds side. Roy Keane had joined for a British transfer record of £3.75 million and even without the injured Eric Cantona United's aura glowed.

How David Moyes would love a midfield quartet of Giggs, Paul Ince, Keane and Andrei Kanchelskis: silk and steel and pace and power in abundance. Ahead of them was Mark Hughes, who possessed three of the four aforementioned skills, and rather than the canny Brian McClair, he was partnered by Lee Sharpe.

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Sharpe savours his first goal

Sharpe had not started any of United's opening four games due to injury but, back in his native midlands, stole the headlines to kick-start a run of four goals in three games.

The Halesowen-born forward gave United the lead after Giggs and Ince unlocked the Villa defence, but Dean Saunders and Dalian Atkinson were already troubling United's defensive axis of Gary Pallister and Steve Bruce. Atkinson provided the equaliser before the pause when he motored past Bruce like a Porsche overtaking a Mini and beat the fuming Peter Schmeichel at his near post.

After the interval it was manic. Saunders drew a great save from Schmeichel, Kevin Richardson and Ryan Giggs smacked the post at either end and Kanchelskis tested 35-year-old Nigel Spink's reflexes.

Ultimately, it was left to Ince - again - to provide a clinical pass to release Sharpe, who slotted home the winner. Not for the last time, United fans poured onto the Villa Park pitch.

"It was a fantastic match in the sense that both teams played exceptionally well," Ferguson cooed. "Which is not the norm when a team wins the game 2-1, as we did.

"But the pitch was beautiful and I always feel that with a night game when the floodlights are on and it's a good pitch... that's British football. And that's the best you saw."