The 1999 FA Cup Final was a football match that took place on 22 May 1999 at the old Wembley Stadium, London, to determine the winner of the 1998–99 FA Cup. It was contested between Manchester United and Newcastle United, with goals from Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes giving Manchester United a 2–0 win to claim their 10th FA Cup title. It was the second part of the "Treble" of trophies Manchester United won during the 1998–99 season, which was completed four days later, when they won the Champions League.
Manchester United's route to the final saw them face Premier League opposition in every round except the Fifth, and also the last ever FA Cup semi-final replay, against the Cup holders from the previous season, Arsenal; Manchester United won the replay 2–1 after a 0–0 draw in the original match. Meanwhile, Newcastle beat Tottenham Hotspur 2–0 in their semi-final.
Since Manchester United qualified for the 1999–2000 UEFA Champions League as title holders and winners of the 1998–99 FA Premier League, England's place in the 1999–2000 UEFA Cup, now reserved for the FA Cup winners following the dissolution of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup at the end of the season, was given to Newcastle United as the runners-up. Manchester United did not defend their title, choosing instead to participate in the 2000 FIFA Club World Championship in Brazil, believing that it would help The Football Association's bid to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup (which was eventually awarded to Germany). As winners of the FA Cup, Manchester United also played in the 1999 FA Charity Shield against Premier League runners-up Arsenal.
Manchester United went into the match as champions of England, having clinched the Premier League title in their final game the previous weekend after losing just three league games all season. They had also qualified for the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final against Bayern Munich, due to be played four days later on 26 May, and were unbeaten in their previous 31 matches in all competitions. By contrast, Newcastle United had finished 13th out of the 20 teams in the Premier League, and had been knocked out of the Cup Winners' Cup in the first round and the League Cup in the fourth round.
It was Newcastle's second consecutive appearance in the FA Cup Final – having lost 2–0 to Arsenal in 1998 – and their 13th appearance overall. They had a 50 percent record in their previous 12 finals, having won in 1910, 1924, 1932, 1951, 1952 and 1955. Manchester United had a better record in their 14 previous final appearances, having won on a record nine occasions – in 1909, 1948, 1963, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1994 and 1996, the latter two having been part of "Doubles". With victory in the 1999 final, Manchester United would become the first English club to win the Double on three occasions, and it would put them one win away from the Treble of league, cup and European Cup, a feat no English team had ever managed before.
The two teams had met previously met 128 times in all competitions, with Manchester United winning 60 times, Newcastle United winning 37 times, and the remaining 31 finishing as draws. Only two of those meetings occurred in the FA Cup: the first happened in the 1908–09 semi-final, when Manchester United won 1–0 at Bramall Lane in Sheffield on the way to their first FA Cup title, and the second in the Fifth Round of the 1989–90 competition, with Manchester United winning 3–2 at St James' Park before going on to win their seventh FA Cup. Manchester United also came out on top in their two league meetings in the 1998–99 season, winning 2–1 at St James' Park on 13 March after playing out a goalless draw at Old Trafford on 8 November.
As Premier League teams, both Manchester United and Newcastle United entered the 1998–99 FA Cup in the Third Round Proper, with Newcastle drawn at home to First Division Crystal Palace, and Manchester United at home to fellow Premier League side Middlesbrough, the last team to beat them all season. Despite having goalkeeper Shay Given sent off within the first 15 minutes and then going 1–0 down, Newcastle were able to come from behind to beat Crystal Palace in their tie, while Manchester United also came from behind against Middlesbrough to win 3–1.
Manchester United's victory set up a Fourth Round tie at home to arch-rivals Liverpool, and Newcastle were paired with First Division Bradford City. Newcastle won 3–0 to book their place in the Fifth Round, while Manchester United again came from a goal down to beat Liverpool with two goals in the last two minutes of their tie.
The Fifth Round saw Newcastle drawn at home to their first Premier League opposition of the tournament in Blackburn Rovers, whereas Manchester United were paired with their only non-Premier League opponents, Second Division Fulham. A goal from Andy Cole saw Manchester United win 1–0 to progress to the Sixth Round, but Newcastle were held to a goalless draw by Blackburn, forcing a replay. Newcastle's on-loan striker Louis Saha scored the only goal of the replay, and they were through to the last eight.
Home draws in the Sixth Round for both teams ensured that they had both been drawn at home in every round of the competition, with Manchester United hosting Chelsea at Old Trafford and Newcastle hosting Everton at St James' Park. This time it was Newcastle who only needed one match to progress to the semi-finals, beating Everton 4–1 with goals from Temur Ketsbaia (2), Georgios Georgiadis and Alan Shearer. Meanwhile, Manchester United were unable to make their numerical advantage count against Chelsea after Roberto Di Matteo was sent off, before Paul Scholes was sent off himself for Manchester United. The match finished goalless and a replay followed three days later, with Dwight Yorke scoring in each half to give Manchester United a 2–0 win.
As per tradition, the semi-finals were played at neutral venues; with Manchester United taking on rivals Arsenal at Villa Park in Birmingham, Newcastle were able to play their semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. Both semi-finals went to extra-time, but only Newcastle were able to produce a result on the day, as Shearer scored twice in the second half of extra time to send Newcastle to Wembley for the second consecutive year. Manchester United's semi-final went goalless, although a goal from Roy Keane was ruled out for offside against Yorke after Ryan Giggs had played the ball to himself in the build-up, despite Yorke being nowhere near the ball at the time Giggs played it.
The replay (the last semi-final replay in the history of the FA Cup) went down as one of the greatest games ever played. David Beckham opened the scoring with a curving shot past Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman from 22 yards, but Dennis Bergkamp equalised halfway through the second half, his shot deflecting off the knee of Jaap Stam. Nicolas Anelka had the ball in the back of the net for Arsenal again shortly afterwards, and the celebrations were well underway before anyone realised that the linesman had flagged Anelka offside before the goal was scored. Roy Keane then received a second booking and was sent off for a cynical foul on Marc Overmars, leaving Manchester United to play out the match with 10 men. The match was heading for extra time when Phil Neville made a tired challenge on Ray Parlour inside the penalty area; Bergkamp stepped up to take the penalty, but Peter Schmeichel guessed the direction of his kick correctly and it was at a good height for him to make the save. The first half of extra time passed without incident, before Patrick Vieira gave the ball away to Giggs at the start of the second; Giggs ran from just inside his own half, taking on four Arsenal defenders as he drove into the penalty area, then shot from a narrow angle over the head of Seaman into the roof of the Arsenal net. Manchester United hung on for the remaining 10 minutes to secure their place in the final.
Manchester United's team selection was dominated by the need to save several players for the Champions League final against Bayern Munich four days later. Midfielders Roy Keane and Paul Scholes were suspended for the Champions League final, so they were paired in central midfield for the FA Cup final as the swansong for their season; their deputy for the Champions League final, Nicky Butt, was left out of the matchday squad entirely to guard him against injury. Top scorer Dwight Yorke was dropped to the bench for a similar reason, while first-choice centre-back Jaap Stam was named among the substitutes to give him a chance to prove his fitness after an Achilles tendon injury. Denis Irwin missed the match due to suspension after being sent off against Liverpool in the Premier League on 5 May and was replaced in the starting line-up by Phil Neville. Several players, including Scholes, David Beckham and Gary Neville, were suffering from a flu virus in the lead-up to the game, and were still suffering the effects on matchday, but were all deemed fit enough to play. Henning Berg was injured.
For Newcastle United, the FA Cup final was their final game of the season, meaning that they were uninhibited in their squad selection for the match. The biggest selection dilemma for manager Ruud Gullit was who to pick to play up front alongside captain Alan Shearer: Scottish forward Duncan Ferguson, who was due for an operation on his groin two days later, or Georgian Temur Ketsbaia. Ketsbaia ultimately got the job, with Ferguson named as a substitute. After marking David Ginola out of the game in their semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur, 20-year-old full-back Andy Griffin was selected on the right side of Newcastle's defence to perform a similar task against Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs.
The first half was full of incident, a volleyed shot on target from Nolberto Solano, a booking for Dietmar Hamann, and Teddy Sheringham replacing an injured Roy Keane all in the first eight minutes. Just over 90 seconds after the substitution, Manchester United took the lead. An incisive move, crafted first by Andy Cole then by Paul Scholes with a well-weighted first time ball allowed Sheringham to drift into the box and rifle a low drive under the Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper. Further chances fell to Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Cole and Sheringham in the first half, but all were unable to convert their efforts. Newcastle's best chance of the half fell to Hamann, a powerfully hit long-range effort just being diverted away from goal by Peter Schmeichel.
Newcastle manager Ruud Gullit, who knew the match was fading from his team, began the second half by replacing Hamann with Duncan Ferguson. Eight minutes into the half, Manchester United went 2–0 up. A long ball from Solskjær was chased by Ryan Giggs but he was beaten to it by Nikos Dabizas, who attempted to clear. Solskjær beat Didier Domi to Dabizas' clearance and passed to Sheringham on the edge of the penalty area. With his back to goal, Sheringham rolled the ball into the path of Scholes, who drilled it past Harper from 20 yards. Late in the game, Newcastle's Silvio Marić was one-on-one with Schmeichel but screwed his close-range effort wide of the Dane's right-hand post and the game finished 2–0 to Manchester United.
Although Peter Schmeichel had taken over as captain after Roy Keane was substituted during the game, Keane led the Manchester United team up to the Royal Box to receive the FA Cup from Charles, Prince of Wales. Also present in the Royal Box were the Duke and Duchess of Kent (the Duke performing his role as President of The Football Association), Prime Minister Tony Blair, FA chief executive Geoff Thompson, Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards and Newcastle chairman John Hall.
After the match, Alex Ferguson praised Teddy Sheringham for his immediate impact after being brought on to replace Keane, saying: "Teddy was magnificent. He has proved a point today. He was the key to victory." He also complimented David Beckham on his performance in central midfield after Keane's withdrawal: "Beckham took over Keane's role and was absolutely magnificent... People say that going to Barcelona without Roy Keane will be a major hurdle, but I don't think so now." Ryan Giggs recognised the importance of scoring the first goal early in the game, saying: "It helped getting the early goal then the second. It was hard for Newcastle to get back into the game with the weather like that. After the quick goal we could relax and hit Newcastle on the break." Meanwhile, Newcastle manager Ruud Gullit was pleased with the effort his players had put in, but bemoaned their mistakes allowing Manchester United an easy victory: "We were punished for our mistakes. The effort was right. The players worked hard and I can't ask for more, but every time we were on top we made a mistake and that cost us two goals. In the end we had to be thankful they did not get three, four or five."
Some of Newcastle's fans were less magnanimous in defeat than their manager, as police in Newcastle reported more than 50 arrests related to violent conduct in the city centre following the match. A crowd of about 500 people had to be dispersed through the use of batons, dogs and horses. Similar incidents had been reported after Newcastle's cup final defeat in 1998, but Inspector Jerry Barker of Northumbria Police said the situation had been brought under control quicker than the previous year.
Having claimed an unprecedented third Double in six seasons, Manchester United went on to beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final in Barcelona four days later to claim the Treble, a feat never before achieved by an English club. Their FA Cup triumph would also have qualified them for the 1999 FA Charity Shield and the 1999–2000 UEFA Cup, but their position as league winners meant that they had already qualified for the Charity Shield and the higher-tier Champions League; therefore, the other place in the Charity Shield went to league runners-up Arsenal, while the UEFA Cup place usually reserved for the cup winners went to Newcastle as cup runners-up.
Manchester United were unable to defend their FA Cup title the following season, having instead been invited to compete in the inaugural FIFA Club World Championship in Brazil. The Football Association (FA) encouraged the club to take part in the new tournament as they believed it would help their bid to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Alex Ferguson initially suggested that The FA could allow his team a bye to a later round of the competition to help alleviate the fixture congestion that would arise from entering both competitions, but the FA suggested that Manchester United simply pull out of the FA Cup altogether, putting the club in what chairman Martin Edwards called a "no-win" situation. Edwards said: "We're going to get criticised whatever we do. If we don't go people will say that we are selfish and only looking after ourselves and not prepared to help the 2006 World Cup bid. But we will also be criticised if we say we're not going to compete in the FA Cup." The offer was also criticised by Manchester United fans, with Andy Walsh of the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association saying: "They've shown very little offer of help in the past when United have looked to ease their fixture congestion. This blinding conversion is all to do with the 2006 campaign."
The club ultimately accepted the FA's offer on 30 June, but they were given until the date of the draw for the Second Round on 28 October to finalise that decision. Their place in the Third Round was given to a "lucky loser", determined by drawing one team out of the 40 losers from the Second Round; that team was Third Division Darlington, who were drawn away to Aston Villa. Manchester United were knocked out of the Club World Championship at the group stage after losing to hosts Vasco da Gama and drawing with Mexican club Necaxa, their only victory coming against Australian representatives South Melbourne. Their misery was compounded by the suggestion from FIFA that their participation in the competition would have no bearing on the vote to host the 2006 World Cup, which was ultimately won by the German Football Association.