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The BBC's Mike Ingham
"The sendings off changed the game"
 real 28k

Saturday, 29 April, 2000, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Red cards spark Man Utd win

Watford's resilience surprised Man Utd
Watford 2-3 Man Utd

Manchester United sleepwalked to an entertaining win over Watford, after both sides were reduced to 10 men.

Heidar Helguson put the home side ahead in the first half of a match rendered meaningless by virtue of the fact that Watford are already relegated and United are installed as champions.
Match facts
33 mins: Helguson puts Watford ahead
63 mins: Butt and Hyde sent off
69 mins: Yorke equalises
75 mins: Giggs puts United ahead
78 mins: Smith equalises
86 mins: Cruyff wraps it up

United, in particular, seemed to be struggling for motivation, which eventually came after an hour when Nicky Butt and Micah Hyde were both sent off for fighting.

Dwight Yorke and Ryan Giggs put the champions ahead, only for Tommy Smith to pull Watford back to parity. Jordi Cruyff settled the match after a defensive blunder gifted him the winner in the 86th minute.

Dominic Foley and Helguson were a persistent thorn in Manchester's side from the outset and exposed the visitors' defensive frailties time and again.

Henning Berg nearly gifted Watford on eight minutes with a slack header in the area that fell to Dominic Foley, but the Irishman's shot on goal was saved.

Foley blasted in another shot after 15 minutes that produced another good stop from Raymond van der Gouw, while Helguson got the better of Silvestre to trouble the United keeper again three minutes later.

Helguson celebrates his goal

Ryan Giggs produced the Premiership champions' only bright moment of the first half when he rocketed in a perfect cross following a lightning quick break only for Mark Wilson to find himself a yard too slow to finish.

Watford's well-earned breakthrough came after 33 minutes when Hyde's searching free-kick was nodded home by Helguson on the very edge of offside.

The action petered out towards the interval, with Watford again starting the brighter in the second half. Smith and Tommy Mooney were both unlucky not to extend the home side's lead after a desperate goalmouth scramble.

The catalyst to United's revival was a brawl in the 63rd minute between Butt and Hyde that started with shoving and finished with red cards.

Butt appeared to be the instigator and continued to berate the officials even after he was given his marching orders.

Cheeky lob

Yorke came on and instantly transformed Manchester's fortunes, sending in the 150th goal of his English club career after a piece of individual magic pulled him clear. His blazing 25-yard shot left Alec Chamberlain for dead.

He shook the crossbar barely 60 seconds later, but it was Giggs who pulled United in front.

He trapped a lofted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pass on the edge of the area and cheekily lobbed the on-rushing keeper for 2-1 after 75 minutes.

Manchester enjoyed the advantage for exactly three minutes before the ever-industrious Smith latched onto a long through-ball wide on the right, skinned Silvestre and drove an angled shot under Van der Gouw.

But it was not to be Watford's day of glory as Cruyff capitalised on confusion in the home side's defence to tap in the winner four minutes from time.

Teams

Watford: Chamberlain, Page, Ward, Robinson, Palmer, Hyde, Perpetuini, Cox, Helguson, Foley, Smith.
Subs: Day, Mooney, R. Johnson, Wooter, Gibbs.

Man Utd: Van Der Gouw, Johnsen, P. Neville, Berg, Silvestre, Butt, Wilson, Greening, Giggs, Sheringham, Solskjaer.
Subs: Culkin, Cruyff, Yorke, Fortune, Higginbottom.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley)

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