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Bayern Munich v Man Utd - One night in 1999
Published : 30 Mar 2010 09:14:01
As Manchester United and Bayern Munich prepare to do battle in the Champions League quarter-finals, Football.co.uk's Will Tidey recalls that famous night in 1999.
Manchester United were an irresistible force in 1999, but on that balmy May night in Barcelona they were passengers in a game that drifted by like the breeze.
Sat high in the Camp Nou, I could see little pattern to United's play. Without the suspended Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, they looked bereft of inspiration, and the potent strikeforce of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were treading water.
It had the distinct feel of one game too many for Sir Alex Ferguson's all-conquering team. All the talk of 1968 had turned even the most experienced legs to jelly. This was the one Ferguson and his team really wanted.
Bayern's goal was strangely innocuous. Mario Basler stepped up and steered a free-kick past Peter Schmeichel as if it was the easiest thing in the world.
Half-time came all too quickly, and as the clock ticked down United fans buried their heads in hands as substitute Mehmet Scholl lobbed the onrushing Schmeichel...only to see his effort come back off the post.
As it turned out, substitutes would define the contest.
Ferguson brought on Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer for Cole and Jesper Blomqvist, while Bayern replaced the experienced Lothar Matthaus with Thorsten Fink.
As the stadium clock hit 90 minutes, United fans summoned one last desperate roar of encouragement as David Beckham swung over a corner on the left. Schmeichel ignored his manager's orders and rushed into the penalty area.
"Can Manchester United score...they always score," asked Clive Tyldesley.
Fink failed to clear, Ryan Giggs scuffed an ugly right-footed shot from the edge of the area, and Sheringham was on hand to sweep the ball into the corner and surely send the game into extra-time.
"Name on the trophy," screamed Tydlesey.
United smelt blood. The tireless Beckham marauded foreward and earned his side another corner deep into injury time. This time Sheringham flicked on at the near post and Solksjaer volleyed home on the stretch to write his name in United folklore.
"Manchester United have reached the promised land...memories were made of this forever and a day. United fans will ask 'Where did you watch the 1999 European Cup final? Where did you watch Ole Gunnar Solksjaer win it with virtually the last kick of the game'."
Eleven years on, I count myself very fortunate to be able to say 'I was there' - watching on as United's treble-winners snatched the most unlikely of victories in the most dramatic of circumstances.
At the final whistle, the Bayern fans stayed in their seats and applauded both teams. It was a quite remarkable display of sportsmanship that will not be forgotten tonight in Munich - where memories of 1999 will loom large.
- Will Tidey