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Wednesday, April 7, 1999 Published at 20:00 GMT 21:00 UK

Sport: Football

Giggs answers United mayday call

Conte stuns Old Trafford with a cool finish from Davids' through-ball

Man Utd 1-1 Juventus

Ryan Giggs threw Manchester United a European Cup lifeline with an injury time equaliser in the first leg of their semi-final.

BBC football correspondent Mike Ingham sees United fight back
Just when Juventus looked like pulling off the perfect smash-and-grab, Giggs popped up at the far post to smash the ball into the roof of the net and send Old Trafford into raptures.

United, who are desperate to win the continent's premier trophy for the first time since 1968, had seemed destined to suffer a potentially fatal blow to their European dreams when Antonio Conte grabbed a gilt-edged away goal in the first half.

But Alex Ferguson's men never gave up and, despite United being the inferior side for much of the game, a frantic assault on the Italians' goal in the dying minutes paid off with the thrilling equaliser.

United had been cursing their luck after having a penalty turned down and a "goal" ruled out for offside - but Giggs' opportunistic intervention at least gives them a hope for the second leg in Turin.

[ image: Giggs is congratulated by his team-mates after his goal]
Giggs is congratulated by his team-mates after his goal
The visitors had been well worth their lead and could have added to their tally during an enterprising first half, when they took the game to United and carved out a hatful of clear chances.

World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane, who had been doubtful before the game with a knee injury, and Dutchman Edgar Davids dominated the midfield for Juventus.

United, by contrast, failed to impose themselves on the match and were forced to chase shadows for long periods as the visitors kept possession.

Dwight Yorke was ineffectual up front, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs featured only fleetingly, and the defence was frequently left flat-footed by Juventus' sweeping counter-attacks.

Conte's cruel blow

Juventus stunned the home side with an all-out assault in the opening stages and Peter Schmeichel did well to keep out a sharp shot from Filippo Inzaghi.

Beckham unleashed one of his trademark curling free-kicks in the 22nd minute but, with most of the United support believing the ball was heading for the top corner, it drifted just wide.

[ image: Keane battles to get the ball off Juve playmaker Zidane]
Keane battles to get the ball off Juve playmaker Zidane
And Juventus went straight up to the other end with an incisive attack which gave them the vital away goal.

Zidane showed that even when not fully fit he is a force to be reckoned with, as he picked the ball up wide on the left and cut inside. Davids took over and threaded a glorious pass into the area where Conte stroked the ball past a despairing Schmeichel.

With the Italians now well on top, Schmeichel was forced to save at the feet of Zoran Mirkovic.

Gianluca Pessotto should have made it 2-0 in the 37th minute, after Davids split the United defence with another superb pass, but with only Schmeichel left to beat he hit his shot high and wide.

In the final minute of the half, Inzaghi clipped a shot just wide after Zidane's cross from the right had again caused major problems for the United back line.

Fluency at last

With Ferguson fearful of his side facing a mountain to climb in Turin, United pushed on in search of an equaliser after the break.

[ image: Conte celebrates after his goal rocked United]
Conte celebrates after his goal rocked United
And they at last began to cause problems for the visiting defence, with some fluent attacking play.

Substitute Ronny Johnsen headed over and Cole came close after an incisive ball from Paul Scholes, who then blasted a shot the wrong side of the angle from long-range.

Peruzzi saved a flashing header from Giggs and Cole sent another half-chance wide after a surging run into Juventus territory.

Cole was beginning to impose himself on the opposition and his belligerence set up Roy Keane, who slammed a low drive from the edge of the area that Peruzzi did well to hold.

Penalty appeal

United were convinced they should have had a penalty in the 74th minute, when Giggs' shot struck the hand of Mark Iuliano - but the referee waved play on and Scholes put the rebound wide.

With United throwing everything forward, Zidane almost capitalised for Juve, but dragged his shot across the face of the goal.

Two minutes from time a header from Old Trafford forgotten man Teddy Sheringham deflected Keane's piledriver into the net - but with the stadium celebrating, the linesman raised his flag.

And in the last minute Scholes, who scored in similarly last-gasp circumstances against Inter, had two great chances - first he put a header straight at Peruzzi and then saw a shot blocked by a covering dive.

But with the crowd convinced United were heading for a home defeat, Beckham hooked a hopeful ball from the byline, the defence failed to clear the ball and Giggs took his chance by lashing home the loose ball.


Man Utd: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Irwin, Stam, Beckham, Cole, Giggs, Keane, Scholes, Yorke, Berg. Subs: Van Der Gouw, Johnsen, Butt, Sheringham, P. Neville, Blomqvist, Solskjaer.

Juventus: Peruzzi, Mirkovic, Montero, Conte, Di Livio, Inzaghi, Iuliano, Deschamps, Pessotto, Zidane, Davids. Subs: Rampulla, Ferrara, Birindelli, Amoruso, Tudor, Esnaider, Tacchinardi.

Referee: Manuel Vega (Spain)

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