Classic FA Cup fifth-round victories
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Huddersfield Town, we have decided to look at Manchester United’s best performances in the FA Cup fifth round.
Our shortlist came to seven, beginning with one of the most famous matches in the club’s illustrious history – the 3-0 triumph over Sheffield Wednesday in 1958 – and ending with an Old Trafford demolition of Arsenal in 2008…
19/2/1958 – United 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0
On an emotional night for the club, the Reds returned to action after the Munich Air Disaster with a cup tie against the Owls at Old Trafford. Famously, the programme contained blank spaces as the line-up was not known in the wake of the team being decimated by the crash. Shay Brennan scored twice with another debutant, Alex Dawson, rounding things off five minutes from time to bring some relief to a crowd still struggling to come to terms with the extent of the tragedy.
5/3/1966 – Wolves 2 United 4
An incredible tie at Molineux unfolded after Terry Wharton converted two penalties inside the first nine minutes for the hosts, conceded by Paddy Crerand and Bill Foulkes. Crerand crossed for Denis Law to pull one back before the break and a defensive error allowed John Connelly to tee up Law for the equaliser. George Best finished clinically on the break in the 73rd minute and the Northern Irish genius played in David Herd to seal a remarkable comeback with an angled drive late on.
24/2/1969 – United 6 Birmingham 2
Future Red Jimmy Greenhoff gave the Blues an early lead in this replay, after a 2-2 draw at St Andrew’s. Law equalised from the penalty spot and bagged a hat-trick with Crerand and Brian Kidd also among the goals. Even though Phil Summerill gave more respectability to the scoreline with 10 minutes remaining, there was still time for Willie Morgan to set the seal on an emphatic victory for Sir Matt Busby’s men.
7/2/1970 – Northampton 2 United 8
The Reds hit eight in an away game for the first time in the club’s history as Best took centre stage with an incredible double hat-trick. Emulating Harold Halse’s six-goal haul in the 1911 Charity Shield, the winger tormented the Cobblers defence, and goalkeeper Kim Book in particular, as he returned from a four-game suspension with a point to prove. On a muddy County Ground pitch, he ran the show against the Fourth Division side, with Kidd chipping in with the other two goals. Dixie McNeil and Frank Large did find the net for the beleaguered hosts, who also missed a penalty.
20/2/1994 – Wimbledon 0 United 3
Some believe the Double-winning team to be one of the best the club has ever produced and this was that side at its finest. Towards the end of the first half, Eric Cantona supplied a moment of magic to volley past Hans Segers and Paul Ince headed a second. But the third strike was another thing of beauty with a spell of ‘olé football’ suddenly springing into serious action to allow Denis Irwin to jink through and claim a marvellous team goal.
14/2/2004 – United 4 Manchester City 2
Although it may be best remembered for Gary Neville’s dismissal for a headbutt on Steve McManaman, this was a derby jam packed with drama. Ahead through Paul Scholes, the hosts were reduced to 10 men before the break, when Neville was red carded, and even a quickfire double after 70 minutes by Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo failed to kill the tie. Michael Tarnat pulled one back but van Nistelrooy extended the lead again to ensure Robbie Fowler’s late strike was largely irrelevant. A man down but the Reds still proved too strong for our neighbours.
16/2/2008 – United 4 Arsenal 0
The North Londoners were outclassed as Wayne Rooney, Darren Fletcher and Nani led a one-sided exhibition. The tie was effectively over before half- time with the aforementioned trio all finding the net and Emmanuel Eboue’s red card for a foul on Patrice Evra only made the task even easier. Fletcher headed a fourth after more dazzling wing-play by Nani but the margin of victory could have been even greater, with Nani’s show of ball juggling at one point emphasising the confidence of Sir Alex Ferguson’s team.
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