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Sunday, April 11, 1999 Published at 17:17 GMT

Titans produce Cup stalemate

David Beckham pulls away from Marc Overmars

Man Utd 0-0 Arsenal
(after extra time)

Manchester United and Arsenal will dance again on Wednesday evening at Villa Park after this FA Cup semi-final ended in a goalless draw.

BBC Radio 5 Live's Alan Green reports from Villa Park
Roy Keane had a goal disallowed in the first half, while Nelson Vivas was sent off for Arsenal in extra time.

Both sides had good chances, but the draw seemed the fair result between these two teams that lead the Premiership.


Before the game started, there was an impeccably observed minute's silence in memory of those who perished at Hillsborough 10 years ago.

[ image: Ryan Giggs and Lee Dixon jump for the same ball]
Ryan Giggs and Lee Dixon jump for the same ball
Gary Neville committed two bookable fouls on Marc Overmars within the first minute, and was booked for the second.

From the resulting free-kick, Patrick Vieira should have scored, the ball floating into his path inside the six yard box, but the Frenchman failed to make contact.

Alex Ferguson: "We had the chances to win" (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Vivas became the second name to enter David Elleray's book, after a stupid challenge on David Beckham.

Ryan Giggs wasted United's best early chance, blasting high and wide from ten yards out after good work from Andy Cole created space for the Welshman.


Arsenal had started brighter than United, but the Old Trafford outfit began to assert their authority, forcing the Gunners back four into a series of unforced errors.

Tony Adams then forced the first save from Peter Schmeichel, connecting with a header from Nelson Vivas's corner, but putting the ball too close to the Dane.

After a frenetic start, the game settled down into a midfield battle, with the Arsenal pair of Vieira and Vivas the United duo of Keane and Nicky Butt cancelling each other out.

Schmeichel, playing in what is likely to be his last FA Cup semi-final, made a brilliant save to deny Dennis Bergkamp, the Dutchman striking hard and low from the edge of the penalty area.


[ image: Roy Keane scores his disallowed goal]
Roy Keane scores his disallowed goal
Inevitably, there was controversy, when Keane appeared to have given United the lead, after Giggs had put in a brilliant cross to cause confusion in the Arsenal penalty area.

But referee Elleray ruled the goal out for offside, although television replays seemed to suggest that United had been harshly treated.

Not surprisingly, the United players were incensed, and Denis Irwin was booked for his protests.

And Irwin was lucky to stay on the field after a crude challenge from behind on Nicolas Anelka went unpunished.

But United could have made light of their misfortune in the final minute of the half, Dwight Yorke clean through on goal, but hitting tamely into the hands of David Seaman.


United's dominance continued at the start of the second half, an unmarked Cole just failing to connect with Neville's right wing cross from six yards out.

[ image: Keane argues with the linesman who ruled out his strike]
Keane argues with the linesman who ruled out his strike
Just like Neville, Vivas was lucky to stay on the pitch after tripping Keane.

Cole had another good chance on the hour, receiving a splendid ball from Giggs, before hitting a soft shot into the hands of Seaman.

The two teams took it in turn to dominate possession, United having the better of the early stages of the second period, Arsenal coming back through the pace of Overmars and Anelka.

But for all the quality on the pitch, the game was very much at stalemate, with the defensive combinations of Adams and Keown and Jaap Stam and Ronny Johnsen catching the eye more than the strikers.

A dreadful error from Vieira allowed Yorke the chance to cross for Keane, and the Irishman headed straight at Seaman, with Dixon appearing to do his share of holding.


The deadlock was nearly broken ten minutes from time by the obligatory Beckham free-kick, but the England midfielder curled his shot a couple of yards wide.

Parlour became the fourth player to receive a yellow card for his challenge on Irwin, and the Irish international was replaced by Phillip Neville.

With five minutes to go, some kind of pattern had emerged, with United applying virtually all of the pressure, and the Gunners content to play on the counter.

That policy nearly paid dividends for Arsenal, Anelka played clean through by Vieira's long ball, but shooting hopelessly high and wide.

With a minute left, it was the turn of Giggs from the free-kick, but his curler went straight into the hands of Seaman.


[ image: Martin Keown holds off Andy Cole]
Martin Keown holds off Andy Cole
Arsene Wenger made his first change by bringing off the ineffectual Overmars and bringing on Swedish international Freddie Ljungberg.

The goaless scoreline after 90 minutes led to extra time.

But with just four minutes expired of the extra period, Vivas received his second yellow card for an apparent elbow to the face of Nicky Butt.

Alex Ferguson attempted to take advantage of their numerical superiority by bringing on another striker, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for Giggs, while Anelka was replaced by Nwankwo Kanu.


Despite both sides visibly tiring, the first period did not yield much in the way of goalmouth action.

The second period of extra time began with Arsenal's best passage of play for some time, ending with Bergkamp's turn and shot which Schmeichel held onto.

Ferguson's final throw of the dice saw Paul Scholes replacing Cole.

Despite all the pressure that United had exerted, Ljungberg could have stolen it for the Gunners, taking Bergkamp's pass but shooting at Schmeichel.

Within a minute, Yorke had just as good a chance, Beckham nodding the ball down to the Premiership's top scorer, but his shot went wide.

And then Bergkamp tricked his way into the United area with seconds remaining, but his shot was blocked by Neville.

Man Utd: Schmeichel, G. Neville, Irwin, Stam, Johnsen, Beckham, Butt, Cole, Keane, Yorke, Giggs. Subs: Van Der Gouw, P. Neville, Scholes, Blomqvist, Solskjaer.
Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira, Adams, Vivas, Anelka, Bergkamp, Overmars, Keown, Parlour. Subs: Bould, Ljungberg, Grimandi, Kanu, Lukic.
Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill)

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