Manchester United
1999 The Treble


An Archive of the Manchester United 1999 Treble Season.

U.E.F.A. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Manchester United's UEFA Champions League campaign started with their qualifying games against LKS Lodz of Poland. The first leg was at home, and United faced a team content to pack the defence and without much attacking ambition. United attacked at will and opened the scoring after 16 minutes with a sweet side-step and shot from Giggs. A header from Cole after 81 minutes made the match result safe.

In the second leg, with a 2-0 deficit to chase the Poles were transformed as a side and attacked from the outset. United reacted calmly and kept the Poles at bay with simple and safe passing. After gaining composure, United made the occasional chance, and the 0-0 draw was enough to see United progress.

United's reward in the Champions League was 'the group of death'. United's Group D comprising Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Brondby.

United's opener in Group D was a home tie against Barcelona. Beckham flourished in midfield and provided the ball with which Solskjaer struck the Spanish bar, then provided a deep cross which Giggs headed home. One-nil to United. Then after 25 minutes Beckham found Yorke, his overhead kick rebounding for Scholes to convert for 2-0. After this Barcelona had a goal disallowed for offside before Anderson made it 2-1 on 47 minutes. Then a Barcelona penalty made it 2-2 on the hour. Four minutes later, a Beckham freekick curled perfectly from 25 yards out made it 3-2 to United, before a handball by Nicky Butt for which he was sent off gave Barcelona their second penalty of the night to square the game 3-3 in a breathtaking contest.

Next United faced Bayern Munich. Bayern's Brazilian Elber put the Germans ahead after 11 minutes from what may have been an off-side position. In reply United slowly consolidated before Beckham produced another of his trademark crosses for Yorke to find the net with a diving header. Sheringham was excelling in his deep-lying role and United took control. On 49 minutes United took the lead with Scholes winning a 50:50 challenge against keeper Kahn before finding the net. Bayern pushed forward to find an equaliser but United held on with Schmeichel denying them, until an uncharacteristic error by United's keeper, coming for and then missing a ball that should have been left for Stam, allowed Bayern to level at 2-2.

After two draws against two of Europe's top clubs United wanted to produce their first win in the Group. United responded with six goals to bury Brondby in what was a record away win in Champions League history. Giggs scored the first after just 2 minutes after the Brondby keeper spilled a cross from Wes Brown. Giggs followed up with his and United's second after 21 minutes, before Cole's superb exchanges with Yorke made it 3-0 after 28 minutes. Brondby got one back before Keane added United's forth. Yorke made it 5-1 before Solskjaer, on as substitute scored with his first touch to make it 6-1. A coasting United allowed Brondby to snatch a second in the final minute and the match finished 2-6. On the same evening Bayern defeated Barcelona, a result which left United on top of Group D.

Brondby's return to Old Trafford resulted in similar demolition. United were 3-0 up within 16 minutes courtesy of goals from Beckham, Cole, and Phil Neville. Beckham's opener was a free-kick from 30 yards driven low past the keeper while Cole got United's second with a wonderful chip after working with partner Yorke to make the opening. Yorke himself added United's fourth after 28 minutes. One more strike, from Scholes after 62 minutes resulted in a comprehensive 5-0 victory.

United's next opposition was away to face a Barcelona side that had to win to stay in the competition. It was a match that was to eclipse even the earlier thrilling 3-3 contest at Old Trafford. The drama began after only 49 seconds when Anderson found the net. Barcelona pushed forward with waves of attacks but United stood firm with Schmeichel outstanding. Soon it was United that began to threaten, and Blomqvist's footwork set up Yorke to level the score after 25 minutes with a low drive from the edge of the box. This was followed by a superb goal in which Cole and Yorke exchanged before Cole produced the perfect finish. United were 2-1 up for just four minutes, before Rivaldo executed a curling free-kick after 57 minutes. The match retained its tempo and United regained the lead after 68 minutes, Beckham crossing for Yorke to head powerfully home. Needing the win, Barcelona pushed forward again, and Rivaldo levelled the score at 3-3 with an overhead kick. It was Rivaldo again who hit United's bar with a 30 yard strike, but United held out and the 3-3 draw was applauded by both sets of fans.

The final match of the Group for United was one which also involved both sides in mathematical calculations; results else where and a draw would be enough to see both teams progress. In the event the draw saw United go through as one of the best two runners up, and as the competitions top scorers and placed in the toughest Group, it was well deserved. In a big match, Wes Brown again looked composed and the game was surprisingly open. However, it remained scoreless until the 43rd minute when Beckham found Giggs, who in turn found Keane at the edge of the box from where the captain fizzed in a low shot. Old Trafford erupted, but Bayern raised their tempo and Salhamidzic made it 1-1 after 56 minutes. United held on for the final 30 minutes, and a place in the Quarter Final was secured.

Group D Final Table
P W D L F A Pts
Bayern Munich 6 3 2 1 9 6 11
Manchester United 6 2 4 0 20 11 10
Barcelona 6 2 2 2 11 9 8
Brondby 6 1 0 5 4 18 3

United's opponents in the Quarter Finals were Internazionale Milan. It was a night in which Beckham was to play against Simeone, the player at the centre of his sending-off in the previous Summer's World Cup game for England. In the event, it was Beckham's evening and the Spanish side never got to grips with Beckham's crossing and Yorke's finishing. The first came after 6 minutes, the second on 45 minutes; both times Beckham crossing and Yorke rising to head the ball home. Simeone himself netted the ball in the second half, but his effort was harshly disallowed for pushing. Schmeichel was at his best and made fabulous saves from Zamorano and Ventola. Then deep into stoppage time after the keeper had again blocked brilliantly, this time from Colonnese, it was Berg that blocked on the line when a goal had seemed inevitable.

With United taking a 2-0 lead to the away leg, it was a night for character as much as skill. For most of the match United were under pressure as Inter fought to open the scoring. The United defence were solid, and Berg was outstanding. However, French referee Gilles Veissiere deserves a mention for his excellent performance; standing firm against an intimidating atmosphere to turn down a catalogue of desperate dives and play-acting from the home team. United rode their luck, Zanetti hitting the post, Schmeichel produced a fine save from a half-fit Ronaldo, and the sterling Berg denying the home side. United survived until the 63rd minute when Ventola made it 1-0. Thereafter Inter attacked in waves seeking their second, the tension increasing by the minute, until Scholes clinically taken chance from eight yards out levelled the score at 1-1 and secured United's progress to the Semi Finals.

The Semi Final pitched United against Juventus. For an hour of the match, United at home were outplayed by the visitors. The Italian side was full of quality, and Zidane and Davids looked awesome. Juventus fully deserved to take the lead after 25 minutes when Conte netted with a low cross-shot. United fashioned occasional chances, but it was only midway through the second half that they began to impose themselves, Giggs and Keane both testing the Juventus keeper Peruzzi. Sheringham came on for Yorke, and United pushed forward for an equaliser. Sheringham seemed to have produced the goal after 86 minutes, but it was ruled off-side. Scholes and Cole both missed opportunities, before in the 90th minute, Juventus failed to clear Beckham's overhead cross, and Giggs was on hand to lash the ball high into the roof of the net from four yards out. At 1-1 United faced a huge task in the second leg; needing an away win against Juventus.

The second leg of the Semi Final saw United rise to supreme heights, and forge one of the most stirring comebacks in European football history; it was only to be surpassed for it's drama by the Final itself. Juventus were 2-0 up in only 11 minutes, Inzaghi scoring after 6 minutes, and then poaching a second after a deflection off Stam. United however were unbowed, instead they pulled one back after 34 minutes with Keane's header from a Beckham corner. United were now the better side and after Stam had headed off his own line to keep Juventus at bay, Yorke made it 2-2. There after both sides had chances, with United the closer, twice hitting the post. A 2-2 draw with the away goals would have been enough for United, but Cole put the result beyond doubt six minutes from time. Sadly bookings for Keane and Scholes meant they would miss the Final, but United were there and it was to be against Bayern Munich in Barcelona.

The European Champions League Cup Final of 1999 will remain long in the memories of all football fans. For United it was to produce an unbelievable climax to an incredible season. Seeking an unprecedented treble, United had already secured the Premier League Championship and F.A.Cup. The European Cup had eluded them for 31 years since Busby's triumph of 1968. The 1999 triumph when it came, with the way it happened, was hard to take in.

The German side had settled quicker and made the better start, and after just 6 minutes a free-kick from Basler put them 1-0 up. The free-kick itself was controversial as Johnsen's challenge on Jancker appeared to be accidental. United however went on to enjoy the better part of possession in the first-half, and Beckham being asked to play in an unfamiliar role in centre of midfield was impressive. Thereafter United pushed forward but without reward, and Bayern looked composed. As time ran out United pushed further forward and allowed Bayern to counter-attack. Schmeichel made saves from both Effenberg and Scholl, and United hearts stood still as Scholl chipped against the post and Jancker hit the cross bar five minutes later.

Still United refused to give in but chances for Yorke, Sheringham, and Solskjaer slipped away. The 90 minutes were up and all that remained was three minutes of added time.

The Bayern colours were already being tied to the trophy when United were awarded a corner in stoppage time. Then followed the most astonishing resurrection in the history of the competition; if not any major world football Final. United's corner was taken by Beckham. The ball arrived at the feet of Giggs who mishit his shot towards Sheringham who was able to steer the ball just inside the Bayern net. The red half of the Stadium erupted, and in the commentary gantry the sound of the noise enveloped the television coverage before ITV commentator Clive Tyldsley simply proffered to the millions watching back home "...name on the trophy."

Moments later, with Bayern still in shock, another Beckham corner was nodded across the goal and this time Solskjaer poked the ball past Kahn and into the roof of the Bayern goal. Again the red half of the Stadium erupted, and again in the commentary gantry the sound of the noise enveloped the television coverage for several seconds before the immaculately measured words of commentator Tyldsley observed "...Manchester United have reached the promised land." Seconds later the referees whistle was blown, and they had.

Bayern Munich: 1 (Basler 6)
Kahn, Babbel, Kuffour, Linke, Matthaus (Fink 80), Tarnat, Jeremies, Effenburg, Basler (Salihamidzic 90), Zickler (Scholl 71), Jancker

Manchester United: 2 (Sheringham 90, Solskjaer 90)
Schmeichel, Irwin, Johnsen, Stam, G Neville, Blomqvist (Sheringham 67), Butt, Beckham, Giggs, Yorke, Cole (Solskjaer 81)

 


1999. No part of this site may be copied or reproduced in any format without the prior written permission of the authors. This site is not part of Manchester United.