Juventus 2-3 Manchester United
Stadio Delle Alpi, April 21st 1999
April 21st 1999 is a date that will forever be engrained in the memory of Manchester United supporters. It was the date that United finally reached their second European Cup Final, 31 years after the heroics of ’68.
In Issue 244 of United’s essential Red Issue fanzine the game in question was chosen as United’s best ever European away performance. United went into the tie against Juventus as huge underdogs. A last-minute Ryan Giggs goal in the first-leg at Old Trafford had given United a lifeline heading to Turin, but Juventus’ sheer dominance of the game meant that United were given little chance by most observers.
Within eleven minutes of kick-off United found themselves 2-0 down on the night and 3-1 on aggregate after a Pippo Inzaghi brace. The Reds had never won in Italy and were up against the team contemporarily regarded as the best in the World, a comeback looked out of the question.
However, less than 25 minutes later Roy Keane with “a captain’s goal” and a Dwight Yorke header had brought United level on the night and ahead on away goals in the tie. The never say die attitude from players and fans alike had appeared to have a calming effect on the team, the task had never changed; United needed to score twice and that’s exactly what they did.
Keane was booked before Yorke’s equaliser for a mistimed tackle on Zinedine Zidane which meant that the midfielder would miss the Champions League final were United to get there. It was of no detriment to Keane’s performance as he went on to complete his finest 90 minutes in a Manchester United shirt. Paul Scholes suffered a similar fate minutes after replacing Blomqvist and wouldn’t get his chance to play in a European Cup final until 2008, when his goal against Barcelona took United there.
Rather than go on the back foot to protect the lead, United carried on attacking and just before half-time Yorke saw a cross-goal strike hit the post and agonisingly miss Jesper Blomqvist, who was running in for the rebound.
Juve went to a 4-4-2 formation at half-time but their fortune wasn’t to change. Ronny Johnsen and Jaap Stam dealt with everything that came their way with ease and United never looked in danger of being breached further, with Juve’s pressure rarely mounting any real chances. The Italians did have an Inzaghi goal ruled out for offside just after the hour mark and replays backed up the decision; despite the striker’s protestations he was at least five yards off when Antonio Conte’s shot-come-cross was played.
Andy Cole missed an excellent chance and United were once more denied by the woodwork when Denis Irwin saw his curling shot come back off the post, before he put his rebound into the side-netting. United were enjoying a good spell of possession and in seeking a third goal Juventus replaced midfielder, Angelo Di Livio with striker, Daniel Fonseca – though Fonseca’s only real contribution was to deny Cole on the goal-line when he cleared his goal-bound header.
A long clearance from Peter Schmeichel was poorly cleared by Montero into the path of Dwight Yorke, who burst through Juve’s centre-backs. Yorke was then brought down by Peruzzi in the Juventus goal, but the referee played the advantage and Cole was there to tap in the final goal of the night and send United to their second European Cup Final.
Full speed ahead Barcelona.
United’s line-up that night
1. Schmeichel; 2. G. Neville, 6. Stam, 5. Johnsen, 3. Irwin; 7. Beckham, 8. Butt, 16. Keane, 15. Blomqvist; 9. Cole, 19. Yorke. Substitute: 18. Scholes.