1999 UEFA Champions League Final
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Match programme cover
|Event||1998–99 UEFA Champions League|
|Date||26 May 1999|
|Venue||Camp Nou, Barcelona|
|Man of the Match||Mario Basler (Bayern Munich)|
|Referee||Pierluigi Collina (Italy)|
The 1999 UEFA Champions League Final was a football match that took place on Wednesday, 26 May 1999. The match was played at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, to determine the winner of the 1998–99 UEFA Champions League. The final was contested by Manchester United and Bayern Munich. The match is best remembered for Manchester United scoring two last-minute goals in injury time to win 2–1, after having trailed for most of the match.12
United's victory was the culmination of their Treble-winning season,3 after they had already won the FA Premier League4 and the FA Cup5 earlier in the month. Bayern were also playing for a Treble of their own, having already won the Bundesliga and earned a spot in the German Cup final; however, Bayern went on to lose in the final.6
Manchester United wore their traditional red shirts, while Bayern Munich donned their grey and burgundy Champions League kit. Referee Pierluigi Collina has cited it as one of the most memorable matches of his career, due to the incredible noise like a "lion's roar" from the crowd at the end of the game.7
|Manchester United||Round||Bayern Munich|
|Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg||Qualifying round||Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg|
|ŁKS Łódź||2–0||2–0 (H)||0–0 (A)||Second qualifying round||Obilić||5–1||4–0 (H)||1–1 (A)|
|Barcelona||3–3 (H)||Matchday 1||Brøndby||1–2 (A)|
|Bayern Munich||2–2 (A)||Matchday 2||Manchester United||2–2 (H)|
|Brøndby||6–2 (A)||Matchday 3||Barcelona||1–0 (H)|
|Brøndby||5–0 (H)||Matchday 4||Barcelona||2–1 (A)|
|Barcelona||3–3 (A)||Matchday 5||Brøndby||2–0 (H)|
|Bayern Munich||1–1 (H)||Matchday 6||Manchester United||1–1 (A)|
|Group D runners-up
|Final standings||Group D winner
|Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg||Knockout stage||Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg|
|Internazionale||3–1||2–0 (H)||1–1 (A)||Quarter-finals||Kaiserslautern||6–0||2–0 (H)||4–0 (A)|
|Juventus||4–3||1–1 (H)||3–2 (A)||Semi-finals||Dynamo Kyiv||4–3||3–3 (A)||1–0 (H)|
Prior to kick off, opera singer Montserrat Caballé performed "Barcelona" live, accompanied by a recording of the late rock singer Freddie Mercury, which appeared on the stadium's electronic screen.8 The day of the final would have been the 90th birthday of former Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby, who died in 1994, and was the only previous United manager to lead the team to a European Cup title (in 1968). Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel had announced that he would leave in the summer, making the final his last appearance for the club. The suspension of club captain Roy Keane led to Schmeichel being appointed the team captain for the game.
Manchester United captain Roy Keane and midfielder Paul Scholes both missed out on the final due to suspension, resulting in David Beckham joining Nicky Butt in centre midfield, Ryan Giggs to the right wing and Jesper Blomqvist starting on the left. Defender Henning Berg also missed out through injury, meaning that his compatriot Ronny Johnsen played in central defence alongside Jaap Stam, who overcame an Achilles injury. With Keane out, goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was named as captain for his final Manchester United appearance.9 As Manchester United's top two goalscorers throughout the season, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke started up front, leaving Teddy Sheringham – who played a part in both goals in the FA Cup Final a few days earlier – on the bench. Also on the bench were fellow striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær, back-up goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw, defenders David May, Phil Neville and Wes Brown, and midfielder Jonathan Greening.
Injuries also impacted on Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld's selections for the final, with French left-back Bixente Lizarazu and Brazilian forward Élber Giovane suffering season-ending knee injuries. Élber's absence resulted in Bayern playing a three-man attack of Mario Basler, Carsten Jancker and Alexander Zickler, while Lizarazu was replaced by Michael Tarnat playing in a wing-back role opposite Markus Babbel on the right. The Bayern defence was anchored around sweeper Lothar Matthäus, who played behind Thomas Linke and Ghana international Samuel Kuffour – the only non-German in the Bayern side (by comparison, Manchester United had four Englishmen, one Welshman and one Irishman in their team). Stefan Effenberg and Jens Jeremies played in central midfield for Bayern, with Jeremies playing a man-marking role on David Beckham. The midfield width was provided by forward runs from Tarnat and Babbel.
Six minutes into the match, Ronny Johnsen fouled Bayern striker Carsten Jancker just outside the area, and Mario Basler placed a low free kick around the United wall to score the first goal. Contrary to popular beliefwho?, the free kick was not a deflection, but rather swerved into the far bottom corner of Peter Schmeichel's goal. Despite the bad start, United began to dominate possession but failed to create any clear cut chances despite David Beckham's tireless running. They seemed to be badly missing influential midfielders Paul Scholes and Roy Keane. The Bayern defence remained strong and well organised, as Andy Cole found out when his close-range effort was quickly closed down by three defenders. As Bayern began to look increasingly more dangerous on the counter-attack than their opponents did in possession, Jancker repeatedly tested the United back four with a number of clever runs, some of which were flagged offside.
Cole once again found himself with a chance in the Bayern box, but keeper Oliver Kahn hurried out of his goal to punch the ball to safety. At the other end, Basler came close with another free kick before Alexander Zickler sent a shot just wide from the edge of the box. As half time approached, United winger Ryan Giggs, playing out of position on the right, sent a weak header towards Kahn from a Cole cross, but that was as close as they were to come to a goal in the first half.
The German team started the second half in a more positive mood with Jancker forcing a save from Schmeichel in the first minute of the restart. Basler was proving to be Bayern's most dangerous player, first firing a 30-yard shot towards goal and then setting up a header for Markus Babbel, who missed the ball entirely. United put together an attack when, after a healthy period of possession, Giggs sent in a cross towards Jesper Blomqvist who could only knock the ball over the bar after a desperate stretch. Another chance for Basler prompted United manager Alex Ferguson to bring on striker Teddy Sheringham. Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld responded with a substitution of his own, bringing on Mehmet Scholl, who immediately set up Stefan Effenberg for a long-range shot which went narrowly wide. Schmeichel kept his side in the game when tipping another Effenberg shot over the bar after 75 minutes. Scholl then almost scored from a delicate twenty yard chip after a run from Basler, but the ball bounced back off the post and into the arms of a relieved Schmeichel. With the game seemingly drifting away from the English side, Ferguson introduced striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær with ten minutes remaining. The substitute immediately forced Kahn into a diving save with a header; the closest United had come to scoring all game. A minute later, Bayern missed a chance to secure the trophy when an overhead kick from Jancker came off the crossbar. As the game crept into the last five minutes, United's two substitutes forced Kahn into more saves, firstly through a Sheringham volley and then from another Solskjær header.
United won a corner just as the fourth official indicated three minutes of injury time, and with so little time left for an equaliser, Peter Schmeichel ventured up to Bayern's penalty area. Beckham flighted the corner in just over Schmeichel's head, Dwight Yorke put the ball back towards the crowded area, and after Thorsten Fink failed to clear sufficiently, the ball arrived at the feet of Ryan Giggs on the edge of the area. His right-footed snap-shot was weak and poorly struck, but it went straight to Sheringham, who swiped at the shot with his right foot, and nestled the ball in the bottom corner of the net. The goal was timed at 90:36. It looked as if, having been behind for most of the match, United had forced extra time.
Less than 30 seconds after the subsequent kick-off, United forced another corner, but Schmeichel stayed in his penalty area this time following Alex Ferguson's instruction to do so. Beckham again swung the corner in, which was headed downwards by Sheringham. Solskjær shot out a foot and poked the ball into the roof of the Bayern goal for United to take the lead. The goal was timed at 92:17. Solskjær celebrated by sliding on his knees, mimicking Basler's earlier celebration, before quickly being mobbed by the United players, substitutes and coaching staff. Schmeichel, in his own penalty area, cartwheeled with glee.
The game restarted, but many Bayern players were overwhelmed with despair, virtually unable to continue and needed the assistance of referee Pierluigi Collina to drag themselves off the ground. They were stunned to have lost a game they had thought won just minutes before (several celebratory flares had already been ignited by the Munich fans moments before United equalised, and Bayern Munich ribbons had already been secured to the trophy itself in preparation for the presentation ceremony).10 United held onto their lead to record their second European Cup title. Samuel Kuffour broke out in tears after the game, beating the floor in despair, and even the giant Carsten Jancker had collapsed in anguish. Matthäus had captained Bayern in the 1987 European Cup Final and lost in similar circumstances to two late Porto goals. He had been substituted with ten minutes remaining, with victory seemingly assured, and the European Cup was the only major trophy he had failed to win during his career.
When the trophy was presented to Manchester United, the captain on the night, Peter Schmeichel, who had just finished his final match for the club, and manager Alex Ferguson raised the trophy together.
26 May 1999
|Manchester United||2–1||Bayern Munich|
Man of the Match:
The game's ending was so unexpected that UEFA President Lennart Johansson had left his seat in the stands before Sheringham's equaliser to make his way down to the pitch in order to present the European Cup trophy, already decorated with Bayern ribbons.13 When emerging from the tunnel at the final whistle, he was stunned. "I can't believe it," he later said, "The winners are crying and the losers are dancing."13 When the two teams went to collect their medals, television viewers around the world watched as Matthäus removed his runners-up medal, almost before he received it. He never won the competition, having moved to play in the United States for the MetroStars in the MLS before Bayern next won the European Cup in 2001. Matthäus later commented that "it was not the best team that won but the luckiest."14
In winning the trophy, Manchester United became the first English team to be crowned European Champions since the Heysel ban in 1985, and also the first team to achieve a unique treble of the Premiership, FA Cup and European Cup in the same season. After becoming the first manager to achieve this honour, Alex Ferguson received a knighthood on 12 June 1999 in recognition of his services to the game of football. In the post-match interview, Ferguson produced his now legendary summary of the game: "Football; bloody hell" The final also signalled Peter Schmeichel's last ever game for Manchester United after eight years of service.
The game attracted an average of 15 million viewers on British television with a peak audience of 19 million in injury time.15 The climax of the game was voted as the fourth-greatest sporting moment ever by Channel 4 viewers in a poll in early 2002.
Manchester United became the first team to win the European Cup or Champions League having failed to be the champions of Europe, champions of their country, or the winners of their country's domestic cup the preceding season. They had finished second in the 1997–98 season to Arsenal, but had qualified through UEFA's expanded format, which had been introduced a few seasons earlier. Had Bayern won the cup, they would have become the first team to achieve this feat, having also finished second in the Bundesliga to Kaiserslautern the season before.
After the treble was secured, much debate arose among English football fans as to whether the 1999 Manchester United team was the greatest club side ever, alongside past European Cup-winning teams.16
- "United crowned kings of Europe". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 26 May 1999. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
- "European final - key moments". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 26 May 1999. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
- Thorpe, Martin (26 May 1999). "Solskjaer takes Treble chance". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 17 February 2009. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
- "Ferguson leads United to new heights". Sports Illustrated (CNN/SI). 17 May 1999. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
- "Manchester United 2 Newcastle United 0". Retrieved 30 January 2009.
- "DFB-Pokal 1998-99" (in German). fussballdaten.de. 2008. Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
- "Euro 2004 Referees: Pierluigi Collina". Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
- Queen's Greatest Hits 3 BBC
- "Schmeichel goes out with a bang". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 26 May 1999. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- "Bayern Munich hope to forget the pain in Spain". Mumbai: Indian Express Newspapers. 19 October 1999. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- Italian referee Collina for European Cup Final
- Radnedge, Keir (2007) . 50 Years of the Champions League & European Cup. Carlton Books. p. 231. ISBN 978-1-84442-326-2.
- The Quotes
- "Sport: Football Matthaus: United were lucky". BBC Sport (British Broadcasting Corporation). 26 May 1999. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- Television spies a view to a kill
- "Are Man Utd the best ever club side?". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 4 June 1999. Retrieved 7 July 2012.