United super subs floor Bayern with latest of comebacks

Camp Nou, Barcelona – 26/05/1999 – Final
Man. United
Man. United
Sheringham 90+1 Solskjær 90+3
2 - 1
Bayern
  • Basler 6
Bayern
Back from the brink

"This is the greatest moment of my life; I'm struggling to take it all in." Sir Alex Ferguson

1998/99

• Manchester United FC scored a record 20 goals in the group stage – including six in 3-3 draws home and away against Spanish champions FC Barcelona – and advanced despite winning just two of their six games.

• Juventus, Galatasaray AŞ and Rosenborg BK all finished level on eight points in Group B; the Turkish and Norwegian sides missed out on head to head record while Juve took top spot despite winning just one game.

• FC Dynamo Kyiv forward Andriy Shevchenko and Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke finished joint top scorers with eight goals apiece, the latter in his first season of UEFA Champions League football.

Manchester United FC redefined what never-say-die means under Sir Alex Ferguson. So many times the Red Devils were pronounced dead only for an all too predictable resurrection. But at the Camp Nou in May 1999 they were in the coffin being lowered into the ground when two substitutes conjured up the comeback of comebacks.

It was a cruel blow for an FC Bayern München team who led for 85 minutes following Mario Basler's early free-kick and dominated thereafter. United, sorely missing suspended duo Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, simply could not wrest control in midfield.

The English fans among a crowd of 90,245 began to doubt; Sir Alex did not. He had seen it all before, not least in the semi-finals when his side trailed Juventus 2-0 at the Stadio Delle Alpi, 3-1 on aggregate, before fighting back to win 3-2.

In Barcelona the United manager introduced Teddy Sheringham and then, with nine minutes remaining, Ole Gunnar Solskjær. With the finish line in sight cracks began to appear at both ends, Solskjær going close before Carsten Janker hit the United crossbar with an acrobatic overhead kick. So near, yet so far for Bayern. The red and white ribbons already being attached to the trophy were not destined for them.

The stadium's digital clock showed 90 minutes as United won a corner. In it came and out it was cleared, but only as far as Ryan Giggs who hooked in a weak effort that fell perfectly for Sheringham to divert inside the post. Having scored a late own goal to present Bayern with the first of two draws when these sides met in the group stage it was payback with interest.

Yet Sheringham's work was not done. Two minutes later he rose to glance David Beckham's corner into the path of Solskjær who prodded in to spark delirious celebrations. "This is the greatest moment of my life and I'm struggling to take it all in," Sir Alex said after the game. "I haven't said anything to my players yet. I've just hugged and kissed them. I've slobbered all over them."

Crestfallen Bayern would have to wait – but not for long.

Star players

  • Giggs

    The most decorated player in English football, in 2009 Giggs became the first man to collect 11 Premier League titles. A pacy, skilful left winger, he made his debut for both Manchester United FC and Wales at 17 but it is his longevity that set him apart; he overtook Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 758 United appearances in the 2008 UEFA Champions League final. A 20-year service has also brought four FA Cups, three League Cup and two UEFA Champions League titles.

  • Matthäus

    The man Diego Maradona described as his greatest opponent, Matthäus was a versatile midfielder whose switch to sweeper allowed him to extend his international career to two decades. He won the first of 150 caps after emerging at VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach, but is best remembered for spells with FC Bayern München and FC Internazionale Milano. His annus mirabilis came in 1990 when he won the FIFA World Cup and Ballon d'Or.

  • Schmeichel

    One of the great all-round goalkeepers, Schmeichel was a fine shot-stopper whose influence started around halfway where defenders were still in earshot. Three times a Danish champion with Brøndby IF, he is best remembered for his eight-year spell at Manchester United FC, whom he captained to the 1999 UEFA Champions League to complete the treble. He was a key member of Denmark's shock EURO '92 success.

What happened next?

FC Bayern München rounded off their Bundesliga campaign a record 15 points clear of the pack but suffered more disappointment on 12 June, losing out to SV Werder Bremen on penalties in the German Cup final.

• Paul Scholes had to wait nine years for his shot at a UEFA Champions League final when Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United FC side beat domestic rivals Chelsea FC on penalties in the 2008 showpiece.

• Bayern got their revenge in the last eight in 2000/01 when they beat United 3-1 on aggregate en route to the final where they defeated Valencia CF 5-4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.

• Ottmar Hitzfeld therefore became only the second coach to win the European Champion Clubs' Cup with two clubs – after Ernst Happel – having guided Borussia Dortmund to glory against Juventus in 1997.

• United's Premier League dominance continued as they won the next two titles – and six of the subsequent ten – though Real Madrid CF ended their UEFA Champions League defence at the quarter-final stage in 1999/2000.

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