United face Olympiakos trailing 2-0 from the first leg of their round of 16 match when goals from Alejandro Dominguez and Joel Campbell gave the Greek champions their first win over United in five meetings.
United also found themselves two goals down to Barcelona on the night of March 21, 1984 when they overturned a two-goal deficit in European competition for the last time.
The 3-0 win over Barcelona has been voted in official club polls as the third greatest occasion in Old Trafford’s history and the sixth best United game of all time.
Two goals from captain Bryan Robson and one from Frank Stapleton gave United victory over a Barca side including great Argentine forward Diego Maradona who was powerless to stop United’s fightback.
Manager David Moyes said on Tuesday he hoped his team can emulate that famous success.
“It has only happened twice before that United have come from two down to win and the last time was the Barcelona game in 1984. Let’s hope we can that again tomorrow,” he told reporters.
An eight-page special report in the club’s Inside United magazine recalls the match as “the night under the Old Trafford floodlights when the ear-splitting, turf-shaking tie turned in United’s favour.”
Robson recalled the game.
“That night was the best atmosphere I experienced during my 13 years as a player here,” he said. “You could feel the pitch shaking.”
Robson felt personally responsible for spurning two gilt-edged chances in the first leg at the Nou Camp and was determined to put matters right at Old Trafford. It took him just 22 minutes to live up to his pre-match promise.
He opened the scoring after a Ray Wilkins corner was flicked on by Graeme Hogg for Robson to launch himself forwards and score with a diving header.
Barcelona goalkeeper Javier Urrutiocoechea was unusually hesitant throughout and his mistake for the second after 52 minutes allowed Robson to score his second and square the tie.
Two minutes later Stapleton volleyed in the third before Barcelona suddenly came to life but failed to score in a frantic assault on the United goal that lasted almost 40 minutes and produced only one real chance for Bernd Schuster who curled a shot wide.
“The problem was we took the third goal too early,” United manager Ron Atkinson said.
“It’s a pity we couldn’t have got it in the 86th minute but that’s what European football is really all about.”
Robson was carried off shoulder-high at the end by delirious United fans but that was as good as it got for them in Europe that season.
A few weeks later Juventus came to Old Trafford and left with a 1-1 draw before winning the second leg 2-1 in Turin.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)