United's cup comeback 25 years on

Wednesday 24 January 2024 08:00

Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Manchester United's FA Cup hopes were being dashed in the fourth round at Old Trafford and, to rub salt in the wounds, it was Liverpool doing the damage.

On the 25th anniversary of a joyous occasion, our look at games at this stage of the famous competition focuses on the amazing late turnaround, a forerunner of what was to be achieved at the climax of the Treble-winning campaign, at the Nou Camp.

For, make no mistake, this was looking like a day to forget. Only two minutes were on the clock when Vegard Heggem crossed for future United forward Michael Owen to head home for the visitors and things were certainly not going to plan.

Late drama against Liverpool in 1999 Video

Late drama against Liverpool in 1999

Relive our sensational FA Cup comeback against Liverpool, 25 years to the day...

Although Roy Keane's header hit the post, and United enjoyed the lion's share of possession, Liverpool appeared to have their game-plan spot on and had other chances to extend their lead in the first half, with Owen going close and Patrik Berger forcing a smart save out of Peter Schmeichel.

United were obviously a brilliant team, with even better character, and were always going to pile the pressure on in the second period. An Andy Cole effort deflected agonisingly on to the top of the net and Keane struck the woodwork again, with a low drive, as time began to run out.

We were on the brink and needed something special at the death to prevent a miserable exit to our fiercest rivals, and on our home patch to boot.

You could never write this side off. David Beckham floated in an 88th-minute free-kick and Cole nodded it across goal for his strike partner Dwight Yorke to touch in the easiest of finishes, in front of the Stretford End.

Old Trafford celebrated wildly and thoughts turned towards a replay at Anfield. However, this team had other ideas and were not done yet. 

Jaap Stam launched a long ball forward that was gathered in by Paul Scholes, only for his fellow substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take over. The Norwegian steadied himself, shifted his feet and nervelessly drilled past David James to spark scenes of sheer elation, showing off the badge to his adoring public.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wins it at the death.

"You have to take risks to win," said Alex Ferguson afterwards. "Liverpool defended fantastically but our determination got us through.

"Both Ole and Scholesy are capable of scoring goals and we hoped they would make the difference when they came on."

Solskjaer added: "I am doing all I can to show that I need more games. I need as many minutes as I can get.

"Coming on for 10 minutes is not easy. You never really catch up with the pace and tempo of the game. For me, it's trying to be in the right place at the right time."

And that was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer down to a tee.