I would argue that the greatest football match ever was the F.A. Cup Semi-Final Replay between Arsenal and Man Utd at Villa Park in the Spring of 1999. This was the year of the famous Treble that has been attained by Man Utd, if they secured the F.A. Cup, European Cup and the Premier League, and even to anyone watching them over that season, destiny would be the among the first words used to describe that season. And one of the best examples of that was the match against The Gunners.
Utd took the lead through a wonderful 25-yard curling shot from David Beckham which nestled into the underneath left hand corner of David Seamen’s net. The dream start had come for Utd. David Beckham, other things that he may be, is gifted I feel with a significant right foot, and he has the ability to generate enormous amounts of spin.
It stayed 1-0 until mid-way through the next half when Denis Bergkamp, Arsenal’s Dutch forward, cut inside from the left wing and struck a go. It was a weak effort, but gaining a deflection from Utd defender Jaap Stam it hit the back of the net, leaving the goal-keeper Peter Schmeichel stranded. The momentum had shifted. It is important to note that in football matches, that momentum can over-ride skill and ability.
And it shifted even more when Roy Keane, the tenacious captain of Utd, was sent off for a miss-timed challenge on winger Marc Overmars. It seemed a matter of time before Utd would capitulate. Still they held out. Normally, this is done due to a solid defensive showing where organisation and teamwork are paramount
But lo and behold, in the 90th minute, with the game heading towards extra-time, Arsenal won a penalty as Phil Neville felled Ray Parlour in the box. Up stepped Bergkamp, which time Schmeichel, THE FANTASTIC Dane, was victorious, guessing correctly that the ball would go to his right. Utd had surely got to extra time. This was no mean feat, saving a penalty is one of the hardest what to achieve in football. It requires guesswork ,reading the opponent’s intentions and committing 100% to a particular position of the target milli-seconds prior to the shot is taken.
Arsenal, though weren’t disheartened, and continued to assault the Utd defense, with Bergkamp going again close on several occasions. Then in the second period, came the defining moment.
Ryan Giggs, the Welsh Wizard, found a loose ball by Patrick Vieira inside his own half. 슈어맨 began on a meandering, jaw dropping solo run, that saw him bob and weave through the whole Arsenal defense, before unleashing a thunderbolt in to the roof of the net from 6 yards out. Only Maradona and Lionel Messi could claim I believe after that passage of play to possess scored with a more impressive dribble.