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Miracle triple play
Man U captures Champions Cup with two late goals
Posted: Sunday May 30, 1999 05:12 PM
BARCELONA, Spain (CNN/SI) -- With their dream of an English triple crown fading into the mist in Barcelona, two subs provided the life support for Manchester United in the Champions League final.
Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer each scored in stoppage time to propel the Red Devils past German club Bayern Munich 2-1. With the miraculous finish, Man United capped a remarkable season during which it won its domestic league and cup titles and the Champions League
The triple crown achieved by Manchester United is a rare one. The Red Devils are only the third club to achieve such a sweep after Celtic in 1967 and Ajax in 1972.
"I can't believe it. That's football. You never give in," said United manager Alex Ferguson.
"Teddy and Ole Gunnar repaid my faith in them," Ferguson said. "It's fantastic. I'm so proud of my players."
The title came on the day of the 90th anniversary of the birth of the late Matt Busby, the Manchester manager who survived the 1958 Munich air crash of his team and guided United to its only previous Champions Cup title, in 1968.
Both scorers came on late in the match to turn around a game that Bayern had largely controlled since taking the lead in the sixth minute on a free kick goal by Mario Basler. Bayern also twice hit the post late in the game.
Devastated Bayern players slumped stunned on the field as the final whistle came moments after Solskjaer's winning goal. "The team played so well, we had to score some goals because of the pressure we had the whole game," Solksjaer said. "Someone had to do it."
"It's just unbelievable. The team spirit is unbelievable. Everyone works for each other," the Norwegian striker said.
Both Manchester goals came after corners by David Beckham. On the first, Sheringham picked up a Bayern clearance at the edge of the area and twisted around to send the ball into the low corner.
On the second, Solkskjaer pounced on a ball headed towards the Bayern goal and slammed it into the net from close range. Solskjaer had come in the 81st minute for Any Cole, while Sheringham replaced Jesper Blomqvist in the 67th.
Manchester goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, playing his final game before leaving the club, came off his goal and may have distracted Bayern defenders by trying to head the ball as Beckham crossed.
Solksjaer had come in the 81st minute for Any Cole, while Sheringham replaced Jesper Blomqvist in the 67th.
Ironically, it also became the first non-champion to win Europe's most prestigious club title. Manchester had finished runner-up to Arsenal last season. But it qualified under the Champions League expanded format.
More than 30,000 United fans among the sell-out crowd at Barcelona's impressive Camp Nou stadium sang in joy long after the final whistle as Manchester players went around the field, proudly displaying the coveted cup.
But the game could not have gotten off to a worse start for Manchester.
Carsten Jancker, the burly Bayern striker, was brought down just outside the United penalty area by Denis Irwin and Ronny Johnsen after a fast counter-attack.
From 17 yards out, Basler took the free kick, sending a swerving shot around the United wall and finding the blind side of goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, the United captain playing his final match before leaving the club.
Two Bayern players had also stood at the edge of the United wall and they moved quickly away as the shot went past them. Schmeichel made no move to stop the ball.
"I am terribly disappointed," said Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld. "Had we not twice hit the post, we might have won the game. But we can hold our heads high."
"Manchester deserved the victory just as much as Bayern," he said.
Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer, the star of the team that won three straight tites between 1974 and 1976, said this was a "horrible defeat."
"Only seconds separated us from victory. We controlled the last 20 minutes and we could have extended our lead. But Manchester deserved to win," Beckenbauer said.
Manchester spent most of the game putting pressure on Bayern, which relied on counter-attacks. But there were few clear opportunities until the wide-open finish.
With 10 minutes left, substitute Mehmet Scholl lifted a lob over Schmeichel but hit the right post. With just a few minutes remaining, a spectacular overhead volley by Jancker shook Schmeichel's bar.
Manchester had to compensate for the absence of suspended midfielders Roy Keane and Paul Scholes and Ferguson let Beckham play in central midfield, with Ryan Giggs moving from his more natural left side to the right.
"I feel we are a passing team and that David Beckham is the best passer and he was essential for the central midfield role. We were going to miss his ability with crosses but Giggs did very well," Ferguson said.
"We played with our pride and the players showed what a great spirit they had."
"These players are just incredible human beings. You can talk all you like about tactics but they just never gave in," Ferguson said.
"We were very fortunate in the last 20 minutes when we got caught on the counter attack but we had to gamble anyway," he said.
Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel; Gary Neville, Jaap Stam, Ronny Johnsen, Denis Irwin, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Jesper Blomqvist (Teddy Shearingham -- 67), Ryan Giggs, Andy Cole (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer -- 81), Dwight York.
Bayern Munich: Oliver Kahn; Lothar Matthaeus (Thorsten Fink -- 80), Sammy Kuffour, Thomas Linke, Markus Babbel, Jens Jeremies, Michael Tarnat, Stefan Effenberg, Mario Basler (Hasan Salihamidzic -- 90), Carsten Jancker, Alexander Zickler (Mehmet Scholl -- 71).Referee: Pierluigi Collina (Italy).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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