The Greatest Football Match Ever
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 was attained by Man Utd, when they secured the F.A. Cup, European Cup and the Premier League, and indeed to anyone watching them over that season, destiny will 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 by way of a wonderful 25-yard curling shot from David Beckham which nestled in to the the bottom left hand corner of David Seamen’s net. The dream start had come for Utd. David Beckham, whatever else he might be, is gifted I feel with a tremendous right foot, and he has the ability to generate large numbers 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 trunk of the net, leaving the goal-keeper Peter Schmeichel stranded. The momentum had shifted. It is very important 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 슈어맨 held out. This is usually done because of solid defensive showing where organisation and teamwork are paramount
But lo and behold, in the 90th minute, with the overall game heading towards extra-time, Arsenal won a penalty as Phil Neville felled Ray Parlour in the box. Up stepped Bergkamp, and this time Schmeichel, THE FANTASTIC Dane, was victorious, guessing correctly that the ball would head to his right. Utd had got to extra time. This is no mean feat, saving a penalty is among the hardest things to achieve in football. It requires guesswork ,reading the opponent’s intentions and committing 100% to a particular position of the goal milli-seconds before 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 next period, came the defining moment.
Ryan Giggs, the Welsh Wizard, picked up a loose ball by Patrick Vieira inside their own half. He thus began on a meandering, jaw dropping solo run, that saw him bob and weave through the entire Arsenal defense, before unleashing a thunderbolt in to the roof of the web from 6 yards out. Only Maradona and Lionel Messi could claim I believe after that passage of play to have scored with a more impressive dribble.