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"The Miracle of the Nou Camp"

The most dramatic European Cup final victory of all-time clinched magnificent Manchester United the
unprecedented "Treble" and created the most memorable two minutes in club football history. The
game itself had an added background. It was played on what would have been Sir Matt Busby's 90th
birthday, it was to be Peter Schmeichel's last ever game for Manchester United and it was against a
team from Munich, a place forever in Manchester United history. The game on the whole was not a
classic, United seemed to have saved their worst game of the season for the most important one. With
90 minutes on the clock, United trailed Bayern Munich 1-0. All was lost, United hadn't played well and
the illusive equaliser seemed a million miles a way. The United fans in the Nou Camp and around the
entire world watched in despair as the dream slipped away.

Slowly there was the depressing realisation that it was all over. The Treble could not be done, Alex
Ferguson would sadly, probably, never win the European Cup now, after this devastating setback. The
Bayern end of the Nou Camp was in party mood, a confident noise was building as they prepared to
celebrate with their fans cheering every Munich pass. A dramatic camera shot on television showed
Alex Ferguson standing barking orders, a lone figure against the towering backdrop of the 3 massive
tiers of fans in the Nou Camp. It almost emphasised the size of the task he and his team faced. United
were struggling against towering odds. The media no doubt had already prepared their stories and
headlines for the next day's papers and websites, about how Ferguson's great team had run out of
steam, a bridge too far.

Yet, by 93 minutes the final whistle had blown and Manchester United were the champions of Europe
having unbelievably won 2-1, both goals scored by substitutes Sheringham and Solskjaer. The United
fans resigned to defeat, now found themselves experiencing the sort of footballing utopia that confirms
this game the greatest in the world and Manchester United the greatest team in the world.

It was too much to take in for both sets of fans and players. United fans were delirious yes, but also
stunned by it all, as if they were in some bizarre dream in which reality had gone out the window. "It
was as if something supernatural had happened" commented Gary Neville afterwards. "I saw the cup
on its way down with Bayern's colours on it. Yet two minutes later it was ours" said David Beckham.
Perhaps that image motivated him to win the corner that led to the equalising goal?

Amazingly the UEFA President missed both goals, given he was on his way down to present the cup
when United equalised and was on his way back to his seat when they scored the winner. Also, United
legend George Best left the stadium early, rather than having to witness his team's painful failure. Who
knows how many at home switched off the television and missed the unforgettable finale?

Some fans thought that the late Sir Matt Busby looking down on it all, had some hand in it. As if he'd
looked at clock on 90 minutes and said "I'm not having this on my birthday" and had a few words with
the big man in the white beard to sort things out. When the whistle went it was hard to believe that
Manchester United were champions of Europe and that Peter Schmeichel would be going up to get
the cup. When your team is losing in injury time the best you can hope for is an equaliser and extra-
time, victory is just pretty much unthinkable.

Bayern's fans were in stunned silence, their world had collapsed in 2 minutes 58 seconds from
Sheringham's goal to the final whistle. Bayern players lay numb on the pitch, some like Jancker in
tears, Kuffour banging his fist on the turf in despair while Matthaus stared on in total disbelief. For the
first time in years it was the Germans tasting bitter defeat at the hands of an English team. The United
players by contrast were dancing around the pitch on cloud nine. For Solskjaer, a place in history,
Sheringham had won it all, Yorke, Stam and Blomqvist had done a treble in their first season,
Beckham had shown his doubters and haters, while Peter Schmeichel would leave United on the
highest pinnacle of all, as captain of the kings of Europe.

Two of United's finest players Roy Keane and Paul Scholes were suspended leaving Alex Ferguson
with a midfield headache. He opted to play Giggs on the right, Blomqvist on the left with Beckham and
Butt in the middle. Basler scored after only 5 minutes from a free kick and for the next 85 minutes
United huffed and puffed trying to find an equaliser against a frustrating Bayern counter-attacking
display. Teddy Sheringham came on as a substitute on 67 minutes, Scholl hit the United bar for
Bayern with a clever lob on 78 minutes while Jancker crashed the ball off the United post with an
overhead kick on 83.

United were on the edge of an abyss, had either chance gone in they would have been dead and
buried. However, the Germans seemed destined not to have any luck on this night and those missed
chances would have shattering consequences. In the meantime United had brought on substitute Ole
Gunnar Solskjaer while the Germans took off arguably their two most influential players, Basler and
Matthaus and tried to kill the game by shutting up shop. They would live to regret those decisions. For
then, suddenly in the last 5 minutes United created chances. Sheringham's header.......saved, Dwight
Yorke.......mis-kicked in front of goal, Solskjaer's shot......saved.

With 90 minutes gone, the fourth official's board went up, showing there would be only 3 minutes of
injury time. The atmosphere became intense as Beckham drove down the wing and Gary Neville's
cross forced a corner. A corner which Effenberg must now wish he'd never needlessly cleared. Peter
Schmeichel caused total chaos in the box. The Germans scrambled but failed to clear. It fell to Ryan
Giggs who hit a low drive from the edge of the area. But Giggs had scuffed it and the ball seemed to
be going wide. That is, until it fell into the path of Teddy Sheringham who swung his right boot to side-
foot home from six yards. The Nou Camp erupted and everyone prepared for extra-time, the golden
goal and even the dreaded penalties.

However, with the Germans reeling United sensed their destiny was taking shape. Bayern's whole
game-plan for 85 minutes was built on that one goal lead, now it was gone and the momentum was
with the men of Manchester. Then from nothing, Solskjaer won another corner and a huge roar of
expectation from the United fans went up. Beckham swung it in, Sheringham rose above everyone
meeting it with a headed flick-on down into the six yard area. And there, was an unmarked Ole Gunnar
Solskjaer, to hook the ball into the roof of the net with his outstretched right foot and score the most
famous goal in Manchester United's long illustrious history.

The Nou Camp has probably never witnessed nor will again the scenes of celebration in the stands
and on the pitch that followed. Ole Solskjaer was mobbed by virtually the entire team and those from
the bench whilst Schmeichel performed a cartwheel in his goal. Italian referee Collina had to pick
some Bayern players up as they still needed to play the remaining few seconds. With barely time to
kick-off Bayern launched an aimless ball into the United box, Butt cleared and on 93 minutes and 33
seconds the referee blew for full-time and that was it. United had sensationally come back from the
dead to win. Alex Ferguson's two inspired substitutions changed the course of English football history
forever. Peter Schmeichel's United career ended in him going up in despair for a corner, and minutes
later lifting European football's most famous trophy, as captain of the history making European
champions. It doesn't get any more dramatic or better than that. The celebrations went on long into the
next morning and the next day the team returned to Manchester where over a million people lined the
streets to welcome the men who had done the "impossible" Treble.

Sir Alex Ferguson summed it all up. "The most important factor was the spirit of the team, they just
never give in, they don't know how to. A manager can talk about tactics, but if the players can't bring
that inner beast out of them then he's wasting his time. Well, they've got that beast inside them and
found it when it mattered. People will never forget this team, my 94 Double winning side had a mental
toughness about them but this crop are the best, they have proved that.....they are Legends".
Here is a transcript of the dramatic moments that won United the European Cup from ITV, the
commentator is Clive Tyldesley
 
Time Commentator

  (United have a corner, Beckham to take.)


90.21 Can Manchester United score? They always score.
Beckham.......
In towards Schmeichel......its come for Dwight Yorke
Cleared...........Giggs with the shot
90.35 SHERINGHAM!   (Sheringham scores)

NAME ON THE TROPHY! 

91.15 As things stand we will go into extra time with a golden goal hanging
like a massive shadow over this final unless Ole Solskjaer can find
another......

(United have another corner, Beckham to take)

Is this their moment?


92.13 Beckham......
Into Sheringham.....
92.17 AND SOLSKJAER HAS WON IT!     (Solskjaer scores) 

Manchester United have reached the promised land, Ole Solskjaer,


and the two substitutes have scored the two goals in stoppage time
and the Treble looms large.
 
93.33 (Final whistle blows)

History is made, Manchester United are the Champions of Europe


again and nobody will ever win a European Cup final more
dramatically than this. Champions of Europe, Champions of
England, the FA Cup holders, everything their hearts desire. United
fans will ask where did you watch the 1999 European Final? Where
did you see Ole Solskjaer win it with virtually the last kick of the
final?

MANCHESTER UNITED: Schmeichel, G.Neville, Irwin, Johnsen, Stam, Beckham, Butt, Cole
(Solskjaer 81), Giggs, Blomqvist (Sheringham 67), Yorke
Subs Not Used: Van Der Gouw, May, P. Neville, Brown, Greening

BAYERN MUNICH: Khan, Babbel,Kuffour, Matthaus (Fink 79),Effenberg, Basler


(Salihamidzic89), Jeremies, Tarnat, Jancker, Zickler (Scholl 70), Linke
Subs Not Used: Dreher, Helmer, Strunz, Daei. Booked: Effenberg

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