Glory Days: How we won the 2004 FA Cup

On 22 May 2004, Manchester United etched their name onto the FA Cup for an 11th time, as Sir Alex Ferguson's Reds scored three times to defeat Millwall at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.


Our third-round victory at Aston Villa – Paul Scholes’s five-minute brace making light of Gareth Barry’s first-half opener – was followed by a comfortable 3-0 success at Northampton Town. A Valentine’s Day fifth-round derby pairing resulted in a 4-2 victory over City (and a sending-off for Gary Neville).

It was a frantic final 20 minutes, with two goals from Kevin Keegan’s Blues exchanged with three United strikes. Next up, Fulham: Ruud van Nistelrooy’s first of two goals swiftly cancelled out Steed Malbranque’s effort, before the Reds overcame a sinew-stiffening challenge from domestic pace-setters Arsenal to reach the final in Cardiff. 

Highlights: United 3 Millwall 0Video


With deference to Millwall, the cup was arguably won against Arsenal at Villa Park – which was starting to become a second home for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in the semi-finals. Invincible in the Premier League, the Gunners, aiming for a third consecutive cup triumph, came unstuck against a Reds XI that was hugely committed from front to back, as well as in the stands. Scholes’s 32nd-minute goal downed Arsene Wenger’s Treble charge on a memorable day out in the West Midlands. 


Roy Carroll’s United career was relatively low-key, but his fantastic semi-final saves from Kolo Toure and Dennis Bergkamp kept Arsenal at bay, while twinkle-toed teen Cristiano Ronaldo announced himself as a stellar talent in his first season in England.


There would be no 1976-style slip-up to lower-division opponents this time – but rather a then record 11th win. United, watchful against a spirited but depleted and toothless Millwall, went ahead on the stroke of half-time through will-o’-the-wisp Ronaldo and never looked back. Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 65th-minute spot-kick offered breathing space, with the Dutchman adding his second, and our third, on 81 minutes. 

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