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Sunday, March 7, 1999 Published at 18:50 GMT

Two off in FA Cup stalemate

Gary Neville had probably the best chance of the match

Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea

Both Manchester United and Chelsea had men sent off in a goalless FA Cup quarter-final clash at Old Trafford.

BBC Radio 5 Live's Alan Green reports from Old Trafford
Chelsea were left with a mountain to climb after Robert Di Matteo was sent off just before half-time.

The Italian midfielder was booked for a foul on David Beckham and then in stoppage time at the end of the half he was dismissed for a second bookable offence - a tackle from behind on Paul Scholes.

[ image: Scoles gets his marching orders]
Scoles gets his marching orders
Scoles himself was red-carded late in the game for a sliding tackle on Bjarne Goldbaek after a great deal of United pressure produced no reward.

Di Matteo's red card was just about the last thing the Blues needed after they had struggled for much of this tie.

Phil Neville man marked Gianfranco Zola, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer played as a lone striker.

Gianluca Vialli speaks to BBC Radio 5 Live
United's midfield was pushing forward at every opportunity in support and from one thrust, Ed De Goey parried a fiercely-hit drive from Roy Keane.

Beckham created another chance for Scholes when he expertly lifted the ball over the Chelsea defence only for the carrot-topped midfielder to prod the ball wide.

Like in all games between these two rivals, there was a bit of needle in evidence and referee Paul Durkin was standing for no nonsense.

The official booked Keane for dissent and then Desailly for repeatedly holding back Solskjaer.

Alex Ferguson speaks to BBC Radio 5 Live
Beckham's service was just as accurate as it had been against Inter Milan in midweek and from one corner in the 27th minute, Henning Berg headed wide.

The visitors were disappointing and they failed to muster a decent shot on goal in the first 30 minutes, apart from a sliced effort from Bjarne Goldbaek.

Denis Irwin tried his luck from long range with a shot, which failed to trouble De Goey.

Chelsea's best chance of the half came on 36 minutes when Goldbaek found Jody Morris in a promising position, but the midfielder planted his shot too close to Peter Schmeichel, who made the save.

Two minutes later came the moment when Gary Neville thought he had scored.

Neville laid the ball off to Beckham on the right before nodding his return against the post with a glancing header.

Scholes then missed a great chance when he sliced Jesper Blomqvist's cross wide after Keane had stood aside to give him a clear sight of goal.

Di Matteo then received his marching orders for sliding in late from behind on Scholes to become the seventh Chelsea player to be dismissed this season.

United had much the better of the second period with chances falling to Scoles and Irwin.

Dwight Yorke was brought into the action with just over 15 minutes remaining and his overhead kick from a Beckham cross brought a fine save from the Chelsea keeper.

With eight minutes remaining Ferguson decided that the game was worth winning and he introduced both Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham into the game.

A flurry of activity in the Chelsea area followed until Scoles was dismissed for a second bookable offence. After a desperate clearance to Goldbaek the United midfielder went sliding in and the red card came out of the referee's pocket.

That action effectively brought an end to the match as a spectacle but United will now be worried about fixture congestion in both Europe and domestic competition.

Ferguson fury

After the match an angry Ferguson accused referee Paul Durkin of redressing the balance by sending off Scholes.

Ferguson said Durkin had "put himself under pressure" with the Di Matteo sending off and the United boss felt that Scholes had suffered as a result.

"The thing that angers me is that's he's (Durkin) gone to balance it out," said Ferguson.

"It (Scholes' tackle on Goldbaek) was an innocuous challenge. It was not even a booking. He's done that to redress the balance and that's wrong."

BBC Football Correspondent Mike Ingham looks forward to the rematch
Ferguson felt United had carved out enough openings to book a semi-final spot - "we've had enough chances to bury them" - but remains confident for Wednesday's replay at Stamford Bridge.

"We've got a good record down there and a good record in the cup against them," he warned.


Man Utd: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Berg, Brown, Irwin, Beckham, Keane, P. Neville, Blomqvist, Scholes, Solskjaer. Subs: Raimond Van Der Gouw, Sheringham, Curtis, Cole, Yorke.

Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Desailly, Lambourde, Le Saux, Petrescu, Di Matteo, Morris, Goldbaek, Flo, Zola. Subs: Hitchcock, Myers, Nicholls, Newton, Forssell.

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