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banner Sunday, 6 January, 2002, 21:00 GMT
Villa's Ruud awakening
Ruud van Nistelrooy lashes his second goal past Peter Schmeichel to cap a brilliant display
Van Nistelrooy caps a brilliant performance
Aston Villa 2-3 Manchester United
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Ruud van Nistelrooy ruined Peter Schmeichel's big day with another stunning demonstration of his goalscoring prowess as Manchester United completed an epic comeback at Villa Park.

United were 2-0 down and seemingly heading out of the FA Cup when the Dutch master answered United's alarm call from the substitutes' bench.

In a stunning five-minute spell, Villa's 2-0 lead had been turned on its head.

  Match facts
51 mins Ian Taylor puts Villa ahead
53 mins Phil Neville's own goal has Villa cruising
77 mins Ole Gunnar Solskjaer starts the fightback
80 mins Ruud van Nistelrooy equalises
82 mins Van Nistelrooy wins it in stunning style

First Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pulled one back for United.

And then Van Nistelrooy capped his first FA Cup tie with two goals in two minutes to break the heart of the former Manchester United goalkeeper.

The dramatic finale was in stark contrast to a dull first-half when neither side was prepared to commit itself.

With Solskjaer their only recognised striker in the starting line-up, United strung five men across midfield and tried to spring men forward.

But they clearly missed the pace of Ryan Giggs and the penalty-box wiles of Van Nistelrooy, who was rested on the bench with a groin injury.

I didn't want to make the substitution because Ruud has been suffering from a groin injury. He came on and the whole game changed
Sir Alex Ferguson

Even so, they carved out the best of the few first-half chances.

David Beckham, making only his second start in nine games, beat Villa's offside trap in the 24th minute but found Schmeichel a big barrier.

Schmeichel then stared down substitute Luke Chadwick, forcing him to pull his shot wide.

And when Solskjaer had a sight of goal, his shot turned into catching practice for the former United keeper.

Ruud van Nistelrooy turned a dramatic FA Cup tie on its head
Ruud van Nistelrooy conducted a Dtuch master-class in scoring

Schmeichel should have been given no chance by Chadwick, though, a minute into the second-half, but from 18 yards he fired over.

United were made to pay for that miss on 50 minutes when Lee Hendrie threaded a pass through the heart of the United defence.

Phil Neville was outmanouvered by Ian Taylor who held the United defender off to tuck his shot past Carroll.

Villa doubled their lead a minute later, when another surge from Taylor caused confusion in the United defence as Merson lofted the ball forward.

Darius Vassell of Aston Villa out-jumps Man Utd's Gary Neville
Vassell beats Gary Neville

Neville had half an eye on Taylor and there was no communication with Carroll as he nodded the ball past his keeper.

That was the signal for United to throw Van Nistelrooy into the fray but Villa almost scored a third when Angel was inches away from making contact with Vassell's cross.

United had struggled to break down Villa's resolute defence but on 76 minutes Solskjaer threw United a lifeline to set up a pulsating finish.

The Norwegian outwitted Olof Mellberg and slotted his shot between Schmeichel's legs at the near post.

But it was Van Nistelrooy who stole the show as he repaid another instalment of his 19m transfer fee.

We handed them the opportunity to get back into the game and I'm still finding it difficult to come to terms with the fact that we've not won
John Gregory

On 79 minutes the Dutchman latched on to Beckham's nod-down, cushioning the ball perfectly on his chest before lashing the ball past Schmeichel.

Two minutes later he stunned Villa by firing United into the lead.

Solskjaer turned into the provider as he fed the ball through for Van Nistelrooy to commit Schmeichel before rounding him and guiding the ball into an empty net.

Aston Villa: Schmeichel, Wright (Stone 86), Mellberg, Staunton, Samuel, Hendrie, Merson (Hadji 85), Taylor, Boateng (Barry 86), Angel, Vassell.

Subs not used: Delaney, Enckelman.

Booked: Vassell.

Goals: Taylor 51, Phil Neville 53 og.

Man Utd: Carroll, Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Blanc, Silvestre, Beckham, Butt (Chadwick 26), Keane, Veron, Scholes, Solskjaer, Chadwick (van Nistelrooy 56).

Subs not used: Van Der Gouw, Stewart, O'Shea.

Booked: Blanc.

Goals: Solskjaer 77, van Nistelrooy 80, 82.

Attendance: 38,444

Referee: G Poll (Tring).

BBC Sport's Simon Brotherton
"Villa were looking good for a place in the fourth round"
Man Utd striker Ruud van Nistelrooy
"It's beautiful to be part of this team"
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"I thought it was a great cup tie"
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