To mark two decades since Manchester United’s historic Treble, we are remembering some of the iconic matches from that famous 1998/99 season. The latest is the emphatic 6-2 victory against Danish side Brondby, which was registered 20 years ago today….
We often score six, but we seldom score ten. The words of the Reds’ fan anthem have rarely seemed so apt. Alex Ferguson’s men netted half a dozen times but squandered enough clear cut chances to have comfortably made it to double figures against the Danish champions.
United truly were the pride of all Europe on this wet Scandinavian evening scoring more goals away from home than any side since the inception of the Champions League in 1992.
“It was a bit like a tennis match,” said Brondby coach Ebbe Skovdahl,
“We have lost 6-0 [in pre season] and now 6-2 and I don’t know what will happen in the third game.”
On 21 October 1998, we beat Peter Schmeichel's old club Brondby 6-2 in Denmark.
The Reds made two changes from the side that had thumped Wimbledon so emphatically four days earlier. Peter Schmeichel replaced Raimond van der Gouw after proving his fitness in a double training session the day before departure, and also into the starting XI came Paul Scholes for the suspended David Beckham, with Ryan Giggs moved from central to right midfield.
It took just two minutes for the wiry Welshman to make an impact. European debutant Wes Brown progressed unimpeded into the final third, then claimed an assist when his cross was fumbled by Brondby goalkeeper Mogens Krogh for Giggs to tuck away the rebound.
By half-time United had scored twice more. Giggs was at it again on 21 minutes, heading in a Jesper Blomqvist centre (for the second time in five days), then seven minutes later the Yorke and Cole partnership conjured yet another goal, with the latter providing the finish. The Reds no.9 collected a Yorke pass, wrong-footed Kenneth Rasmussen then sent a right-foot shot curling beyond Krogh.
The next Dane to make a mistake in this game was Schmeichel, who allowed an accurate but tame free-kick from Kim Daugaard to squirm past him and into the net. It wasn’t exactly the return to his former club the great Danish hero had been hoping for, but the 1-3 scoreline was a fair reflection of the first 45 minutes – the visitors excellent in attack, if slightly wasteful, but rather sloppy at the back.
More of the same followed after the break, with the Reds striking three times in seven minutes only to concede again in injury-time.
The imperious Roy Keane, taking yet another step towards his finest form, was next to score. He played a one-two with Yorke to break open the Brondby defence and make it 1-4 with a shot in off the post.
Provider then turned finisher, with Yorke heading a deserved fifth for United from Phil Neville’s high cross to the far post. Number six came from (don’t call him ‘super’) sub Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who rounded off the rout on 62 minutes by firing in a Yorke lay-off with his first touch of the game.
More United goals seemed a certainty, only for profligate finishing and a drop in tempo to allow the hosts to pull one back in injury time. Ebbe Sand capitalised on another Schmeichel handling error – spilling a shot into the path of his international team-mate – to make it 2-6.
It was a comprehensive and record-breaking away win for United, and while Ferguson was understandably delighted with the half-a-dozen goals he was less pleased his side’s overall display.
Afterwards he said:
“It was not a great performance. The conditions were difficult for both teams and that created a carelessness and sloppiness in our play and we gave the ball away too much. Still, you can’t dismiss the goals we scored and that was the main feature of the game for me.”
The result, allied with Bayern Munich’s 1-0 home win against Barcelona, moved the Reds to the top of Group D.
“It’s been a great night for us and we got the result we wanted in Munich,” said Ferguson.
He may not have been entirely happy, but there was a growing feeling among United supporters that – in the words of the supporters’ song – this was developing into ‘one of those teams that you (only) see now and then’.
Brondby IF 2
Daugaard 35, Sand 90
Manchester United 6
Giggs 2, 21, Cole 28, Keane 55, Yorke 60, Solskjaer 62
M Krogh; Colding, Rasmussen, Nielsen (M Jensen 31), B Jensen (Vragel 27); Bjur, Daugaard, Ravn, Lindrup; Sand, Hansen (Bagger 67)
Subs not used: Anderson, Thygesen, S Krogh, Olsen
Schmeichel; Brown, Stam, G Neville, P Neville; Beckham, Keane, Giggs (Cruyff 61), Blomqvist; Yorke (Wilson 66), Cole (Solskjaer 61)
Unused subs: van der Gouw, Berg, Clegg, Curtis
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ryan Giggs: This was the Welshman at his unplayable best. He scored after two minutes and netted again after 21 to give the Reds the perfect start in a rain-drenched Parken. In his hour on the pitch Giggs exposed the Danes’ lack of pace and cut them open with countless trademark slalom runs.