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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
"These are special years"
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The BBC's Ian Brown
"In truth it was all too easy for United"
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The BBC's Phil Neville
"This one is just as good as the first one"
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Saturday, 22 April, 2000, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Man Utd win title in style

David Beckham scored with a trademark free kick
Southampton 1-3 Manchester United

Alex Ferguson and his men will travel home happy at a job well done, but maybe feeling their sixth Premiership title in eight years is scant consolation for a week in which they crashed out of the Champions League.

Despite knowing they needed just three points to wrap it up, Manchester United felt confident enough to leave Paul Scholes and Dwight Yorke on the bench and instead opted for the attacking prowess of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Their faith in the Norwegian was rewarded with a goal - and a free kick from David Beckham and an own goal from Southampton's Francis Benali gave the champions elect a three-nil lead at half-time.



Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored Utd's third

Only a late goal from Southampton's Marian Pahars cast a shadow over an impressive display.

After the match, a delighted Alex Ferguson said: "It's fantastic to win the league, and the number of goals we've scored and the way the players have played has been fantastic.

"It's a great league and when we had the defeat against Newcastle I think we wakened up.

"We are now going to aim to win all our remaining games - I think this is the best Man Utd team we have ever had."

United wasted no time pushing men forward and won two early corners, but Southampton soon picked up the pace and chances were made at either end.



I think this is the best Man Utd team we have ever had

Man Utd manager Alex Ferguson

Foolishly however, Southampton gave away a free kick in classic Beckham country on seven minutes and the Man Utd number seven duly despatched the ball into the back of the net.

On 15 minutes, Man Utd doubled their advantage when a low cross from Phillip Neville skimmed across the face of the box and deflected off the boot of Francis Benali for an own goal.

A defensive mix-up could have given Southampton a way back almost immediately and a further error by Mikael Silvestre gave Southampton a free kick wide on the right which they sqandered.

Southampton felt rightly aggrieved shortly before the half-hour when Andy Cole, who had collected the ball while seemingly running back from an off-side position, was awarded a corner by the referee.


Match facts
7 mins - Beckham scores trademark free kick
15 mins - Benali own goal doubles Utd advantage
29mins - Solskjaer hammers the ball home
83 mins - Pahars scores consolation goal for Soton

Man Utd were beginning to put the Southampton goal under increasing pressure, and only a glaring miss by Andy Cole after Beckham's free-kick came off the keeper prevented them from taking a three-goal lead.

When Southampton found themselves in promising positions, invariably their passing let them down.

And their lackadaisical approach at the back also cost the Saints dear.

< On the half-hour, an inch-perfect pass from David Beckham, found Solskjaer wide on the left who hammered the ball home.

After 37 minutes, van der Gouw was finally put under pressure by a resounding shot from Tessem, which the Man Utd keeper did well to keep out.



Roy Keane was booked for interfering
Marian Pahars was lucky to stay on the pitch after he sought retribution against David Beckham for what he saw as a foul.

The half-time whistle then blew, but tempers did not cool during the break and Beckham was again the victim of several rash tackles at the start of the second half.

In the ensuing minutes, referee Neil Barry booked Man Utd skipper Roy Keane for getting involved unnecessarily, and Southampton striker Kevin Davies for a foul on Beckham.

The game gradually settled the game and Southampton began to play their best football of the match.

They were unable to contain Man Utd on the break however, and chances to extend the lead came thick and fast.

There was a welcome return for Manchester United's Ronnie Johnsen who had missed almost the entire season following knee surgery.

Southampton never gave up and Hassan Kachloul had a couple of good attempts which worried van der Gouw.

Marsden also came close but the ball just ran away from him and the Man Utd keeper was able to gather it comfortably.

It appeared as though Man Utd would clinch the title with a clean sheet, but just before the final whistle, Marian Pahars stepped up to spoil the party with a beautiful - and much deserved goal.

Teams:

Southampton: Moss, Dodd, Richards, Lundekvam, Benali, Tessem, Tahar, Marsden, Bridge, Davies, Pahars. Subs: Kachloul, Soltvedt, Oakley, Le Tissier, Bevan.

Man Utd: Van Der Gouw, G. Neville, Stam, Silvestre, P. Neville, Beckham, Butt, Keane, Giggs, Solskjaer, Cole. Subs: Culkin, Johnsen, Scholes, Yorke, Sheringham.

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe)

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