Manchester United players and coaches celebrate winning the Premier League in May 1999

Glory Days: How we beat Tottenham to win the title

Saturday 16 May 2020 09:00

Manchester United dramatically brought the Treble one step closer to glorious reality by sealing the Premier League title, on this day in 1999.

It would be easy to overlook the Premier League leg of the incredible, some said impossible, Treble, but in its way, the championship success was every bit as dramatic as events in the Nou Camp.

Not until the final whistle of the final game of the season was the destination of the title confirmed, with Arsene Wenger's Arsenal pushing the Reds all the way in the bid for domestic supremacy.

Roy Keane lines up with the officials and Spurs' captain Sol Campbell prior to the game.
United's task at the start of the 1998/99 campaign was to surpass the Gunners, takers of our Premier League crown the previous season – and a side that Gary Neville has since labelled "the best domestic team" he ever faced. Alex Ferguson (no knighthood to his name yet) had added Jaap Stam to bolster his defence and Jesper Blomqvist to ease the reliance on Ryan Giggs. And, three games into the season, Dwight Yorke arrived to add a spark in attack.
A 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in the Charity Shield hardly augured well for the campaign ahead, and it was a month into the season before the Reds registered a first league victory – but it was a significant win. Yorke scored twice as Charlton Athletic were beaten 4-1, beginning a scoring run – in tandem with Cole – which was to underpin United's quest for glory. The seemingly telepathic pair would end the campaign with 53 goals between them in all competitions: Yorke 29, Cole 24.
Another 3-0 reverse to Wenger's side in mid-September, this time at Highbury, set the alarm bells ringing, and they got louder still with just one win in six December games, including a shock 3-2 home defeat to Middlesbrough. That, however, was to be the last reverse of the season.
Progress in the Champions League and the start of the FA Cup campaign meant the Reds were now battling on three fronts. In round four of the cup, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer foreshadowed his Nou Camp exploits, flooring Liverpool with an injury-time strike. The Norwegian then bagged four in 10 minutes to complete an 8-1 rout of Nottingham Forest, further reining in Arsenal. And David Beckham (crossing) and Yorke (finishing) combined to see off Internazionale in Europe. Momentum was building. 
David Beckham celebrates his crucial equaliser in the final league game of 1998/99.
When United and the Gunners were paired in the FA Cup semi-final, the tie was billed as winner takes all – the victor reaching Wembley, but also gaining the psychological edge in the title race. After a tight 0-0 first time around, the replay was one of the great games of all-time, the Reds prevailing, with Peter Schmeichel saving Dennis Bergkamp's late penalty and Giggsy scoring that goal to clinch a Cup final place. And while Arsenal never truly recovered, the Reds went from strength to strength. 

Another incredible semi-final victory, this time against Juventus and inspired by Roy Keane earned United a Champions League showdown with Bayern Munich in Barcelona. But that could wait; first there was the denouement of one of the closest title races in memory, with the Reds and Arsenal rotating top spot almost weekly throughout April and May. 
Dwight Yorke and his strike partner, United's match-winner Andy Cole, parade the Premier League trophy.
On the final day of the season, Arsenal faced Aston Villa at home and United welcomed Tottenham. Rarely had Old Trafford been so tense. And the United faithful were stunned when Les Ferdinand put the visitors ahead in the 25th minute to give the Gunners the advantage.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man as Beckham – scapegoat for England's World Cup exit the previous summer – produced a stunning equaliser to cap a brilliant season's contribution. And when Cole stepped from the bench to seal the game with a delightful lob, the title was confirmed. Champions... again. Relief all round. Stage one – completed.
#Treble99: United 2 Tottenham 1 Video

#Treble99: United 2 Tottenham 1

The Reds came from behind to beat Spurs and clinch the league title at Old Trafford, on this day in our Treble season…


Andy Cole:
"I remember my goal like it was yesterday. As soon as Nev [Gary Neville] knocked the ball in, it was a bit further than I expected so I knew I had to bring it down with my first touch but, after that, what happened was instinct. It bounced up and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw [Spurs goalkeeper] Ian Walker off his line so I just instinctively tossed a lob up, caught it perfectly on the instep and it just bounced into the back of the net."

Sir Alex Ferguson: "It was tense. Very tense. It's the nature of things at United, that we make it hard work for ourselves. We did that by going a goal behind. But I had a feeling Andy would score. I thought we did well in the first half and I fancied our chances in the second half."

MATCH REWIND and our Official App will stream United's 1999 title-sealing triumph over Tottenham in full this evening (Saturday). To watch the 90 minutes for free, head to the homepage or open the app just before 19:00 BST.

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