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Wednesday, April 14, 1999 Published at 22:43 GMT 23:43 UK


Sport: Football

Giggs magic sinks Gunners

Ryan Giggs scores United's winner against Arsenal

Arsenal 1-2 Man Utd (after extra time)

A moment of extra-time magic from Manchester United's wing wizard Ryan Giggs put the Red Devils into the FA Cup final and left Arsenal wilting in the heat of a classic semi-final.


Alan Green describes Ryan Giggs goal
Villa Park had been illuminated with two magnificent goals from David Beckham and Dennis Bergkamp either side of half time in an amazing match which was embraced with moments sublime skill but was deservedly won by United despite the sending off of midfielder Roy Keane.

'The luckiest team won'

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: "It is not easy to take a defeat, but what you can demand of a team is they give everything. I am very sad today because it was not our night and we were unlucky. That's football.

"The two teams are very close to each other and in the end the luckiest won."

He added: "There's no reproach. I would just like to congratulate Manchester United. They were fantastic. I am very sad but they have shown again they are a great team."

'Played in agony'

United boss Alex Ferguson hailed his side's ability to dig in and fight and said that keeper Peter Schmeichel had a great game.

"We had a marvellous save from Peter, I think we deserved the win, over the two legs I think we were the better team.

"We had no complaints about the sending off of Roy Keane, the players have played in agony to get the victory."


Alan Green reports for BBC 5 Live
Even before the game had begun Ferguson had shocked the huge crowd with some controversial changes to the United line-up.

The United manager decided to tweak his recently rather blunt attack which had struggled to score on Sunday and who must now face a gruelling European Cup semi-final a week on Wednesday.

Forgotten striker Teddy Sheringham and the baby-faced assassin Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were brought into the forward line to replace the tired Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.

Brilliant

It was Beckham's brilliant goal, his third in the last five matches, which destroyed Arsenal's usually mean defence which had gone 690 minutes without being breached.

The goal was instigated by Schmeichel who threw the ball to Beckham who then fed the ball to Solksjaer. The striker played the ball to Sheringham and it was his acute through ball that allowed Beckham to unleash a curving 22-yard shot past goalkeeper David Seaman.

Tempting

In the opening minutes of the second half Roy Keane broke from midfield and split the Arsenal defence with a perfectly timed ball but Solskjaer could only skew the ball wide in what could have been United's winner.

Seconds later it was Jesper Blomqvist who tricked his way into the area only to be denied by an excellent save from David Seaman.

The Gunners retaliated with a rare escapade into the United half but Ray Parlour's cross for Anelka was blazed over the bar from ten yards by the youngster.

Flair

On 61 minutes both teams decided to inject yet more flair into what was already a thrilling match.

On came Ryan Giggs and the flying Dutchman Marc Overmars in place of the unlucky Blomquist and his fellow Swede Lundberg.

The substitution instilled Arsenal with enthusiasm and a piece of devine skill from Dennis Bergkamp suddenly threw his side a lifeline.


[ image: Beckham - opened the scoring for United]
Beckham - opened the scoring for United
The Dutchman received the ball just past the halfway line, turned on a sixpence and sent a blistering drive into the back of the net leaving Peter Schmeichel with no chance.

Suddenly the tide turned and what had seemed to be a United tidal wave was reversed into an Arsenal tsunami.

Bergkamp broke free once again and split the United defence to leave Anelka one on one with Schmeichel. The Frenchman slotted the ball home and turned to celebrate only for referee David Elleray to disallow the goal for offside.

In the heat of Arsenals complaints Roy Keane was dismissed for his second bookable offence.

Just as everyone had accepted the game would end level, Phil Neville made a rash challenge on Ray Parlour as the midfielder broke into the box leaving David Elleray no option but to point to the spot.

But as Dennis Bergkamp dreamt of his first Wembley final, Peter Schmeichel dived to his left to push away the goal which could have fulfilled the Dutchman's boyhood dreams had it hit the back of the net.

Extra man

The game entered extra-time and in the first 15 minutes Arsenal continued to take full advantage of their extra man.

However, it was United who were to have the last laugh as their Welsh wizard Ryan Giggs took a leaf out of Diego Maradona's book by taking on the entire Arsenal defence with.

His skill and courage were rewarded as he beat four Arsenal defenders and smashed the ball past a helpless David Seaman.

The United defence held out in the dying moments to ensure Alex Ferguson's valiant men will face Newcastle United in the FA Cup final next month.

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira, Adams, Ljungberg, Anelka, Bergkamp, Keown, Parlour, Petit. Subs: Bould, Vivas, Overmars, Lukic, Kanu.

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

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill)



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