A look back at the 1999 Champions League Final
The 1999 Champions League Final was held on the 26th of May 1999 between arguably two of the greatest clubs in European football. Both Manchester United and Bayern Munich might never have dreamed of what a historic night it would turn out to be. Both the teams had already won their domestic titles and were chasing the same dream – a historic treble that would be remembered for decades to come.
Manchester United had already won the Premier League and FA Cup while Bayern Munich had already won the Bundesliga and had booked a place in the DFB-Pokal final. However Bayern went on to lose the DFB-Pokal in the final.
For Manchester United, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes missed out on the final due to suspension. This resulted in David Beckham and Nicky Butt forming the Central Midfield. Ryan Giggs started on the right while Jesper Blomqvist started on the left wing. Peter Schmeichel started as the captain while Solksjaer and Teddy Sheringham started on the bench.
Bayern played a three-man attack of Mario Basler, Carsten Jancker and Alexander Zickler, while Michael Tarnat played a wing-back role opposite Markus Babbel on the right. The Bayern defence was spearheaded by Lothar Mathaus. Stefan Effenberg and Jens Jeremies played in central midfield for Bayern. Legendary keeper Oliver Kahn guarded the posts for Bayern.
The match began with a huge lift for the Germans as Bayern drew first blood. They scored within six minutes as Mario Basler swerved a low free kick around the United wall. The first half saw Manchester United struggling to score as Bayern’s defence stood strong as a rock as well as being very dangerous on counter attack.
In the second half Basler proved to be Bayern’s most dangerous player as he led their attack, creating fine chances one after the other, but without scoring the 2nd clinching goal. United then went on to have a healthy period of possession as Alex Ferguson brought on striker Teddy Sheringham. With ten minuted to go for the stipulated time to end, Fergie brought on Ole Gunnar Solksjaer- the baby faced assassin. The English hopes were waning at this point. Their treble hopes were coming to an end. In the last five minutes Solkjaer and Sheringham both forced Oliver Kahn into saves. The dream was being undone.
As the fourth official signaled three minutes of injury time, United won a corner. Even Peter Schmeichel ventured into the Bayern penalty area. Time was running out. David Beckham sent in a corner which Dwight Yorke put into the crowded area. A failed clearance brought the ball into Ryan Gigg’s legs who sent in a poor shot. At the end of the shot was a United shirt – Teddy Sheringham who converted the goal with ease and convinced everyone in the ground that this match was going to extra time, much to Bayern’s chagrin. United was back.
Less than 30 seconds later, United won themselves another corner. David Beckham swerved in another beautiful corner, finding the head of Teddy Sheringham who nodded the ball into the path of Solskjaer who went on to score the goal that broke many a Bayern supporter’s hearts. The goal was timed at 92.17 with 43 seconds remaining for the game to end. One of the best comebacks in a football match!
The game restarted but the Bayern players were overwhelmed with despair unable to contemplate what had happened in the past few minutes. The game ended shortly and has received cult status as one of the most entertaining finals ever.
One of the best referees ever, Pierluigi Collina was the referee for this game and he is cited as saying :
“I will always remember it for different reasons: first of all, the reaction of the Manchester United supporters when they scored the second goal – it was an incredible noise, like a lion’s roar.
“Then there was the reaction of the Bayern players – their disappointment as they fell down on the pitch after conceding that goal. The contrasting reactions of happiness and sadness, and the sad eyes of Lothar Matthaus when he looked at the trophy – all very unforgettable.”
United fans would never forget this match, the match which defined the Alex Ferguson era, the era of young blood, late goals, Fergie time and attacking football. This match would be remembered as one of the greatest nights in European football.