24 January 1999
Manchester United 2:1 Liverpool
FA Cup 4th Round
Old Trafford


"Again Utd leave it late to wrap up the match. This time Ole Gunnar came of the bench to score the goal, which sees Manchester Utd into the next round. I have a feeling Ole will do something like this again..."


By David Anderson, PA Sport

The match where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the winner in stoppage time to complete one of the most remarkable Manchester United's comebacks ever. Liverpool were just two minutes away from a famous FA Cup triumph after Michael Owen had scored in the third minute. For 88 minutes they had withstood everything United could throw at them including two chances when Roy Keane hit the post.

But just when it seemed the visitors would end their 78-year long wait to beat United in the FA Cup, Andy Cole fed Dwight Yorke to score the equaliser. If that were not cruel enough on Liverpool, substitute Solskjaer popped up in the first minute of stoppage time to send the Old Trafford faithful into heaven. It was a fantastic game which, unlike previous meetings between these two fiercest of rivals, lived up to its billing.

United boss Alex Ferguson had predicted a real belter of a game and his forecast proved correct as this fourth round tie had everything. Unfortunately for Liverpool that included a loser and full credit to them for playing their part in such a memorable clash. They had made a dream start when Owen headed them in front in the third minute. Jamie Redknapp released Vegard Heggem down the right and his cross was glanced home by the unmarked Owen for his 18th goal of the season.

United were clearly rattled and they needed the next few minutes to gather their senses. Once they did they piled on the pressure on Liverpool's makeshift defence. Steve Harkness and Dominic Matteo partnered Jamie Carragher at the heart of the defence in the absence of the suspended Phil Babb and injured Steve Staunton.

Skipper Paul Ince was on guard duty just in front of them, but on 22 minutes this red line was almost breached. David Beckham released Yorke on the right with a neat flick and David James could only touch the striker's cross onto the head of Roy Keane. Keane's header struck the inside of the near post and Ince hoofed the ball off the line with United claiming it had crossed the line.

It was all United and the recalled Gary Neville, playing at right back rather than centre-half where he did such an excellent job on Owen when the sides last met, was causing Liverpool problems raiding down the flank.

Liverpool were still dangerous and Redknapp drove a 25-yard free-kick just the wrong side of Peter Schmeichel's upright. Yorke was looking impressive in this battle of the hottest strikers in the Premiership and he found Ryan Giggs with a great ball on 32 minutes. Cole brought Giggs' high ball down, but his shot was blocked for a corner.

Owen gave United a scare when he outpaced Jaap Stam and shot just across Schmeichel's goal. Fowler was just as lively as his strike partner and he curled a speculative effort just past the post. For the main, though, it was United doing most of the attacking.

They were camped outside the Liverpool box as they tried in vain to find a way through the mass of white shirts. United were becoming more desperate and five minutes before half-time they appealed more in hope than in expectation for a penalty for handball against Carragher.

Liverpool looked threatening on the break and just before the interval Schmeichel parried Patrik Berger's near-post shot away for a corner. And from the resultant set-piece, Ince sent a downward header bouncing into the grateful arms of Schmeichel.

Nicky Butt, who had an absolute stinker in the first-half, was much improved in the second and he released Cole through the middle only for James to rush out and hack the ball clear. Giggs claimed he had been pulled back when he failed to convert Beckham's cross, but referee Graham Poll was unmoved.

Owen continued to harass United's defence and from one attack he went between Keane and Irwin before setting up Fowler in a great position, but he fired wide. Still United pushed, but still the equaliser would not come. United thought it had in the 61st minute when Keane's drive took a deflection and appeared to be bouncing past the stranded James and into the net, only for it to go wide for a corner.

Giggs and Beckham were playing as two extra strikers as United increased the pressure on Liverpool's creaking defence. Once again United thought they had made the breakthrough when Cole's deflected shot appeared goalbound, but it bent just over the bar.

United's growing frustration was eloquently summed up by Keane who chopped down Redknapp and was duly booked. As the game entered the final quarter, United brought on Paul Scholes for Butt. Liverpool were riding their luck now and James saved Matteo's attempt to cut out a backpass.

The battle-weary Ince was replaced by Jason McAteer as Liverpool tried to hold out. The normally-accurate Scholes drove over from a great opportunity before the woodwork denied Keane in the 80th minute when he fired against the inside of the post.

United played their final two cards when they brought on Solskjaer and Ronny Johnsen with 10 minutes remaining. Ferguson's last throw of the dice worked as United finally breached Liverpool's defence.

First, Cole knocked back Beckham's disputed free-kick for Yorke to score from close range. Then Scholes fed Solskjaer and the Norwegian international netted to break of the heart of every Liverpool player and fan.


Alex Ferguson hailed the "sheer determination" that saved Manchester United's FA Cup skin as they came from a goal down with two minutes to go against Liverpool to seal a famous 2-1 fourth-round win at Old Trafford today. For Ferguson's opposite number Gerard Houllier, though, the focus of attention was the contentious free-kick decision he believes turned the game United's way.

The decisive moment came when Jamie Redknapp was controversially penalised for a foul by referee Graham Poll on Ronny Johnsen. Houllier claimed it should not have been given.

"It was a crucial moment. I didn't think it was a foul, and Jamie has told me since it wasn't," said the Liverpool boss. "I have seen it on TV and it looks like Johnsen fell over the ball. That broke our concentration; we were not in the right positions for the free-kick because we were still arguing about it with the referee. Maybe for several seconds it was like that, and they scored from the free-kick."

First Dwight Yorke and then Ole Solskjaer scored in a dramatic last-ditch spell that wrecked Liverpool's magnificent defensive display.

Ferguson said: "Liverpool have every reason to be gutted. They defended fantastically, but sheer determination got us through. So people don't think we want to win the FA Cup - well we showed differently out there.

"The one thing we didn't want was a replay. But we also showed by our substitutions that you have to take risks to win matches like this. I felt we deserved what we got because we were prepared to take those risks.

"As we were preparing to take that last free-kick, I was telling Peter Schmeichel that if it was cleared he must make sure that Jaap Stam stayed up in the attack. That's a risk; that's what you have to do."

Ferguson also hailed Solskjaer's crucial involvement. He said: "The lad can come on and just switch into the game like that. The goal may well have been his first touch of the ball.

"We had a terrible start. To give a goal away like that to a 5ft 6in striker in the six-yard box against our defenders, for God's sake, how did that happen?"

United have lost both Roy Keane and Paul Scholes for the fifth round on February 13 after the pair both received their fifth bookings. The home game with Arsenal on that day will also be to be rearranged.

Houllier admitted that Liverpool are some way short of United's status but he said: "For this game we raised ourselves to their level. We know we have to still improve, and I feel disappointed for our players and fans because they were so close to writing a piece of club history in giant letters. We haven't beaten United in the Cup for over 70 years, but I assure people that we will beat them at some stage - we deserved at least a draw.

"We had good chances also to have scored a second goal, and that would have finished it. Robbie Fowler had a couple of chances; they just didn't go in for him on this day."


Manchester United: Schmeichel, Irwin, G Neville, Stam, Berg, Beckham, Giggs, Keane, Butt, Cole, Yorke.
Subs: Scholes for Butt, Johnsen for Berg, Solskjaer for Johnsen
Scorers: Yorke (88) Solskjaer (92)

Liverpool: James, Carragher, Matteo, Harkness, Heggem, Bjornebye, Redknapp, Ince, Berger, Fowler, Owen.
Subs: McAteer for Ince
Scorers: Owen (2)

Referee: G Poll

Attendance: 54,591

© Sporting Life 1999. Page maintained by Patrick Eustace, last updated Thursday, 27-Jan-2000 20:47:46

[About Us]   [Contact Us]   [FAQ]
Match Highlights

Alex Ferguson's Verdict

Further Articles
Ole sents faithful to heaven

Season Meetings
Man Utd 2:0 Liverpool

Liverpool 2:2 Man Utd

Season 98/99
Full Season Results

Final League Table

98/99 Player Profiles