Manchester United to play Europa League final on the day they won 1999 UCL

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the late winner to help Man United beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the Champions League final on 26th May 1999.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates his dramatic late goal against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final; Credit: Twitter

On the back of four semifinal defeats, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United have eventually qualified to a final. Thanks to an 8-5 aggregate victory against Roma, the Red Devils will next play Villarreal for the Europa League trophy. This will be the club’s second final in the competition in the span of four years. In 2017, Manchester United won this competition under manager Jose Mourinho after beating Ajax 2-0 in the final. In Gdansk on 26th May, Solskjaer has an opportunity to win the club’s second Europa League title and his first trophy as a manager at Old Trafford.

The significance of the day is not lost with die-hard Man Utd supporters. It was the same day in 1999 when a young Solskjaer came as a second-half substitute to score the dramatic late winner against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. The victory at the Camp Nou completed an incredible treble for Sir Alex Ferguson’s boys that season. It was arguably the club’s best season under the Scot after previously winning the FA Cup and the Premier League trophy in the campaign.

Now as a manager, Solskjaer has an opportunity to get his hands on a European trophy on the same day. After Manchester United reached the Europa League final on Thursday night, the Norwegian was inevitably asked about the special date. “There was a decent final in 1999 on 26 May. It’s a good day and let’s hope it’s a good omen,” Ole told the reporters.

A look back

On 26th May 1999, both Manchester United and Bayern Munich were still in the hunt for a treble. For United, star midfielders Paul Scholes and Roy Keane were both suspended for the crucial game. Nicky Butt and David Beckham were tasked with marshaling the midfield, with Ryan Giggs on the right-wing and Jesper Blomqvist starting on the left.

Mario Basler’s early goal from a free-kick stunned the Red Devils. The German side were in control as the English club struggled to assert their usual dominance. With no change to the scoreline, Ferguson brought on Teddy Sheringham and Solskjaer as second-half substitutes. There were barely minutes left when United won a corner as the fourth official indicated three minutes of injury time.

From a Beckham corner, Bayern were not able to clear the ball sufficiently as Giggs’ right-footed shot from the edge of the box was turned in by Sheringham for the equaliser. The match was now destined for extra time before United forced another corner less than 30 seconds after the subsequent kick-off.

Beckham’s cross from the corner was flicked by Sheringham in the near post before another substitute Solskjaer, in the far post, poked the ball into the roof of the Bayern goal to complete the remarkable turnaround. United players were ecstatic as Bayern stars were overwhelmed with despair. It was Sir Alex’s first Champions League trophy as a manager.

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