United's most memorable FA Cup quarter-finals
Manchester United are seasoned veterans of the FA Cup’s latter stages, and the quarter-finals have thrown up a spate of memorable meetings down the years…
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 2 UNITED 2 | UNITED 1 WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0
The Reds’ famous victory over Sheffield Wednesday, achieved only 13 days after the Munich Air Disaster, booked a last-eight showdown with a West Brom side who, either side of the Cup tie, recorded a home and away league double at United’s expense.
With Bobby Charlton making his return, Ernie Taylor broke the deadlock within five minutes. The hosts quickly drew level through Ronnie Allen, Alex Dawson then restored United’s lead but, two minutes from time, Roy Horobin equalised to force a replay at Old Trafford just four days later. The clamour to attend made for a 60,000 crowd inside the stadium, with another 30,000 locked outside amid chaotic scenes. Those inside were treated to an absorbing tie which was poised until the final minute, when Charlton crossed for Colin Webster to tap home and spark pandemonium around the stadium.
UNITED 3 SUNDERLAND 3 | SUNDERLAND 2 UNITED 2 | UNITED 5 SUNDERLAND 1
Though United were the Cup holders and Sunderland were atop the Second Division table, it took 300 minutes to separate the sides in an absorbing triple-header. It took a last-gasp equaliser from George Best at Old Trafford in the first meeting to save United, who had trailed the Wearsiders 3-1 with just four minutes remaining. When the sides reconvened at Roker Park four days later, the Reds twice had to fight back, Bobby Charlton heading in at the end of extra-time to prompt a second replay, this time at Huddersfield’s Leeds Road.
This time United’s class told, but not before Sunderland had forged ahead again with Nick Sharkey’s second-half opener. Denis Law quickly levelled, however, before going on to notch a predatory hat-trick which, accompanied by further strikes from Phil Chisnall and David Herd, finally put the tie to bed.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 3 UNITED 5
Beaten in the semi-finals by West Ham a year earlier, United’s determination to return to Wembley manifested itself in another stirring Cup run to complement what would be a first successful league title campaign since 1956/57. The Reds’ hopes of winning a first domestic Double ultimately came unstuck against an obdurate Leeds United at the City Ground, but not before a dramatic quarter-final fightback at Molineux, where Wolves had led 2-0 inside the opening quarter of an hour.
Denis Law struck before the break, David Herd levelled and George Best scored with a corner to subvert the scoreline shortly after the hour as the Reds ran riot. With the hosts now completely overpowered, long-range scorchers from Paddy Crerand and Law capped the comeback, negating Peter Knowles’ late consolation and taking the Reds through.
UNITED 1 EVERTON 0
Norman Whiteside’s late winner had seen off Derby County in the fifth round, but Ron Atkinson’s Reds left it even later to secure progress at the expense of a burgeoning young Everton side at Old Trafford. Shorn of inspirational but injured skipper Bryan Robson, United often struggled to keep up with the visitors’ crisp passing game, although visiting goalkeeper Jim Arnold was required to make a staggering save from Frank Stapleton’s first-half effort, then had to fend off a Whiteside blockbuster late in the game.
Just when it appeared certain that the sides would reconvene at Goodison Park, however, came a moment of brilliance; Ray Wilkins’ chip headed by Lou Macari towards Stapleton, and the Irishman’s stunning, first-time volley arcing inexorably into the top corner. Old Trafford writhed and rejoiced as the Reds took a huge step towards Wembley.
UNITED 4 WEST HAM UNITED 2
Five months after trouncing the Hammers 5-1 in a First Division meeting at Old Trafford, the Reds approached this quarter-final tie high on confidence; a poise embodied by a young, permed Mark Hughes, who opened the scoring after 20 minutes with a calm finish after sublimely controlling Paul McGrath’s cross.
Though Graham Hogg’s inadvertent own-goal quickly levelled the score, it was at this point that Norman Whiteside – moved to midfield to accommodate Hughes’ inclusion – took centre stage.The Northern Irishman restored United’s advantage with a brilliantly dextrous header, then doubled it by slamming home a finish from Hogg’s floated free-kick. After Paul Allen had briefly set nerves jangling with a neat chip for the visitors, Whiteside secured progress – and his first Reds hat-trick – by slamming home a late penalty.
UNITED 3 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1
Though Alex Ferguson’s 1993/94 vintage were overwhelming favourites to brush aside the second tier Addicks, a season of Cup upsets had already seen Arsenal, Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United eliminated by lower league opponents. The visitors’ faint hopes of adding the biggest name of all to that elite list were piqued when Peter Schmeichel was dismissed on the stroke of half-time for handling the ball outside his area.
As Ferguson later recalled, however:
“Everyone saw it as a challenge. The chips were down and they were brilliant.” Forty seconds into the second period, Mark Hughes powered home the opener and thereafter Charlton were at the mercy of United’s counter-attacks, two of which culminated in goals for Andrei Kanchelskis, rendering Carl leaburn’s effort scant consolation for the travelling supporters.
UNITED 0 CHELSEA 0 | CHELSEA 0 UNITED 2
While much was made of the Reds’ attacking prowess in 1998/99, shutting out a dangerous Chelsea side for 180 minutes of a tense FA Cup quarter-final was no mean feat. The Blues would ultimately finish just four points behind the Reds in the Premier League title race and were unbeaten at home all season prior to the sides’ quarter-final replay meeting at Stamford Bridge.
Red cards for Paul Scholes and Roberto Di Matteo were the only highlights of a dour first meeting, but it took only four minutes for Dwight Yorke to spark the replay into life by volleying home when Chelsea failed to adequately clear a David Beckham free-kick. The hosts were kept at bay for the remainder of the tie, with Yorke securing progress on the hour by caressing a stunning chip over Blues goalkeeper Ed de Goey.
SOUTHAMPTON 0 UNITED 4
“It was, in every way, an immaculate performance,” reflected the Daily Telegraph’s Jason Burt, as United strolled into the semi-finals with a clinical display against a struggling Saints side. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side struck at key junctures in the game, while only an inspired display from home goalkeeper Paul Smith kept the scoreline respectable.
The home stopper was beaten inside two minutes by Roy Keane’s deflected thunderbolt, then either side of half-time by comprehensive finishes from Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes, but he was able to repeatedly thwart on-song Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Scholes notched once again right at the death to rub salt in the hosts’ wounds and, for added measure, the Reds would be back on the final day of the Premier League season to confirm Saints’ relegation to the Championship.
UNITED 2 ARSENAL 0
Galloping along on three fronts, Ferguson gambled with his team selection as he looked ahead to a Champions League knockout decider with Marseille three days after the visit of Arsenal, fielding a team which contained seven defenders. Three of them - John O’Shea, Rafael and Fabio – joined Darron Gibson in midfield, but United were too strong for a Gunners side also ousted from the League Cup and Champions League in the previous week.
Fabio smashed home the opener after Javier Hernandez’s header had been parried by Manuel Almunia, and while Edwin van der Sar was required to turn in one of his finest displays thereafter, a crafty Wayne Rooney header wrapped up an unlikely but deeply satisfying victory for the Reds.
UNITED 1 WEST HAM 1 | WEST HAM 1 UNITED 2
The Reds reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup after a quarter-final replay victory over West Ham. The Hammers, who were enjoying one of their best seasons to date, ensured that Louis Van Gaal's Reds had to get the job done at Upton Park after being held to a draw at Old Trafford. Dimiti Payet opened the scoring on United soil with a dazzler of a free kick before Anthony Martial restored parity with seven minutes to play. A month later the two sides reconvened at Upton Park, in it's final year of operation, and there was a much more assured performance from the Reds under the lights in East London.
Young hotshot Marcus Rashford, who had broken into the first team a month earlier, gave the Reds the lead shortly after the interval and Marouane Fellaini doubled that soon after. The visitors couldn't rest on their laurels though with James Tomkins pulling one goal back in the 79th minute, however it wasn't enough to prevent the Reds marching on to Wembley.