David Beckham is mobbed by the crowd after Man Utd's 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final.

Countdown: United's top three FA Cup replays

Wednesday’s Emirates FA Cup third-round match against Wolves is the latest in a long line of replays that Manchester United have played during the club's illustrious history in the competition.

New rules brought in for this season’s tournament mean all ties from the fifth round onwards will now be decided on the day, but that hasn't been the case in the past.

In fact, nine of our previous semi-finals and two finals – in 1983 and 1990 – have gone to a second game, including the 1970 semi-final against Leeds United that was decided at Burnden Park after two goalless draws.

A countdown of United's 10 greatest FA Cup replays is featured in Wednesday's edition of United Review, which fans can buy at Old Trafford or online. 

Here are the three that finish on the podium in that list...

3. LIVERPOOL 1-2 UNITED (1985 SEMI-FINAL)

“Liverpool are the team to beat as they’ve done it for years,” said Bryan Robson, fresh from being chaired from the Maine Road pitch by an exultant United support, all delirious after one of the greatest-ever FA Cup double-headers.

Joe Fagan’s Merseysiders had twice battled back to snatch a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park when the sides initially met, and forged ahead for the first time in the tie when Paul McGrath inadvertently netted at the wrong end just before half-time.

Two minutes into the second period, Captain Marvel strode through the centre of the pitch, and arrowed a jaw-dropping effort high into Bruce Grobbelaar’s top corner from 25 yards. On the hour, Gordon Strachan’s sublime play released Mark Hughes, who fired in another cracker from the edge of the box, prompting Daily Mirror journalist Frank McGhee to salute United’s ‘goals of blazing splendour’.

2. UNITED 4-0 BRIGHTON (1983 FINAL)

“We needed something from the season,” recalled Reds keeper Gary Bailey of 1983’s FA Cup final meeting with relegation-bound Brighton. “We had a chance of winning the league but ultimately just faded away and we also lost the League Cup final against Liverpool, so it was really do-or-die. But it just goes to show you never know what to expect on the day of an FA Cup final. It’s such a pressurised day that you can get caught up in the tension.”

United were visibly nervy when running out to face the Seagulls at Wembley, and found themselves limping towards a 2-2 draw when Bailey made a heroic save from Brighton’s Gordon Smith in the final minute of extra-time. That heart-stopping fright just about navigated, United made sure there would be no second flirtation with embarrassment when the sides reconvened.

“We were relaxed and powerful, and played the football we should have played in the first game,” reflected Bailey. Second time around, the Cup’s destination was assured by the break as Ron Atkinson’s Reds strode towards a first trophy in six years. Robson – who else? – set the ball rolling by sweeping a 20-yard effort into the bottom corner and Norman Whiteside’s brilliant glancing header had United two clear inside half-hour.

Though Robson’s close-range tap-in before half-time gave him the opportunity to seal a hat-trick when United were awarded a 63rd-minute penalty, the skipper magnanimously deferred the spot-kick to Arnold Muhren. The Dutchman’s successful conversion rounded off the scoring, though there was still time for Whiteside to hit the crossbar and for Bailey to make a stunning late double-save – reminding all onlookers that it was his brilliance which had given United a second shot at glory.

Our most famous match against Brighton Video

1. ARSENAL 1-2 UNITED (1999 SEMI-FINAL)

After a goalless draw at Villa Park, where Roy Keane’s goal was incorrectly disallowed, Alex Ferguson rotated his side for what was the last-ever FA Cup semi-final replay. With the following week’s Champions League semi-final second leg at Juventus and a crucial league meeting with Sheffield Wednesday in mind, first-choice strikers Andrew Cole and Dwight Yorke were rested, along with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Denis Irwin.

“This is where it all kicks in,” Giggs said beforehand. “This kind of battle on three fronts is what the players want to be involved in. We are looking forward to every game. It doesn’t get much better than this.” Prophetic words indeed.

The Welsh winger watched from the bench as the rotated Reds took the game to a full-strength Arsenal side, forging ahead when David Beckham curled in a sumptuous 17th-minute opener which sent Villa Park’s foundations shaking. United’s strident travelling support provided a deafening din throughout, and were almost given more to bellow about early in the second period, only for David Seaman to somehow cling to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s close-range effort.

Against the run of play, Dennis Bergkamp’s deflected shot drew the Gunners level after 69 minutes, prompting a madcap five-minute spell in which Nicolas Anelka’s goal was disallowed and Roy Keane was sent off for picking up a second booking.

Arsenal 1-2 Manchester UnitedVideo

Pressing home their advantage, Arsenal won a last-minute penalty when Ray Parlour was tripped by Phil Neville, only for Peter Schmeichel to parry Bergkamp’s effort to safety. Extra-time it was, with United set on playing for penalties.

That is, until Patrick Vieira wearily ceded possession to Giggs, on as a substitute, early in the second period. The Welshman decided to go it alone from there. ‘There were no better options,’ noted Independent writer Glenn Moore. ‘United, down to 10 men, were unable to support attacks.’ You know the rest.

Vieira, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown and Tony Adams were bypassed, then Seaman was bested by an astonishing effort which arrowed into the roof of the net; the only fitting denouement to one of the most heart-stopping, nerve-shredding FA Cup ties ever contested.

Take a look at our complete countdown of the Reds’ top 10 FA Cup replays in the Wolves edition of United Review, which is on sale at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

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