"The Treble Looms Large!" A Look Back at the 1999 Man Utd Treble

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In 1999, Manchester United completed one of the greatest sporting achievements in sports history when they accomplished the Treble. 

The Treble consists of winning three major championships in club football and in English football, the Treble consists of winning the Premier League, FA Cup, and the UEFA Champions League all in the same season—but it has only been accomplished by three other European club ever.

Those other clubs are Celtic in 1967, AFC Ajax in 1972, and PSV Eindhoven in 1988. In 1999, they won the Premier League by one point over Arsenal, won 2-0 against Newcastle in the FA Cup final, and beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in one of the most dramatic Champions League finals ever, and this is how Alex Ferguson's men were able to accomplish the treble.

 

Premier League

In the Premier League that season, United suffered three losses. Those losses were at Highbury to Arsenal, at Sheffield Wednesday, and at Old Trafford to Middlesbrough.

But, after the loss to Middlesbrough in December, they went the rest of the season without losing another game in the Premier League. During this stretch, they had some impressive wins/draws, which included defeating Nottingham Forest 8-1, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær scored four goals in twelve minutes after entering the game as a substitute.

They also won at Newcastle, and had draws at Leeds and Liverpool on the road. At Old Trafford during this streak, they had notable wins against Everton, Aston Villa, and Sheffield Wednesday (who beat them earlier in the year).

They also beat Southampton in front of their biggest home crowd of the season (55,316), and had a 1-1 draw against Arsenal at home. At the end of the year, United held a one point lead over Arsenal, and had to beat Arsenal's arch rival Tottenham Hotspur in order to win the league. 

Many people expected Tottenham to not try at all during the game, as Tottenham and Arsenal are arch rivals, and Tottenham now had the chance to deny Arsenal from winning the Premier League. However Spurs did show up, and scored an early goal, but David Beckham tied it before half-time and Andy Cole scored the game winner in the 48th minute to give United the win, the Premier League, and the first leg of the treble.

 

FA Cup

In the FA Cup, United got paired with Middlesbrough in the third round, whom they beat 3-1 after being down at half-time. In round four, they played rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford in one of the greatest games between the two.

Michael Owen gave Liverpool the lead in the third minute of the game, and they held it until the 88th minute when Dwight Yorke scored from a Beckham free kick and a header from Cole to tie up the game. Several minutes into stoppage time, Solskjaer scored, and gave United a 2-1 win over Liverpool.

After beating Fulham 1-0 in the fifth round, and a sixth round replay win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge 2-0, United faced off against rival Arsenal again in the FA Cup semifinal.

The first game ended without any score after 120 minutes, and a goal for Roy Keane was controversially disallowed because it appeared that he was offside to the referee, even though replay showed that he wasn't offside—so the two titans met again for the last ever FA Cup semifinal replay (they were replaced by penalty shootouts at the end of the game if it was tied after overtime).

During the replay, Beckham scored early in the game, but Dennis Bergkamp tied the game in the 70th minute for Arsenal. Three minutes later, Keane was red carded for having multiple bookings, and United had to play the rest of the game without him.

In stoppage time, Phil Neville committed a foul inside the penalty box, but United keeper Peter Schmeichel stopped Bergkamp's penalty, which brought the game to extra time. In the 110th minute, Ryan Giggs ran 70 yards and beat five Arsenal defenders and scored the go-ahead goal in what is considered to be one of the greatest solo goals ever.

United won the game several minutes later, and went to the FA Cup final against Newcastle at the final FA Cup final at the old Wembley Stadium. United won the game 2-0 with goals from Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes, which gave United the FA Cup the second leg of the treble, and the "English Double" (winning both the FA Cup and the Premier League in the same season).

 

Champions League

In the UEFA Champions League that season, United got paired in a group with Brøndby, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich. They got through this round with two blowout wins against Brøndby and drew with Barcelona and Munich twice each as they advanced onto the knockout round.

In the knockout round, they were paired with Inter Milan. They beat Inter 2-0 at Old Trafford from two goals by Yorke, and had a 1-1 draw at San Siro with the tying goal coming from Scholes at the end of the game, as United won the series 3-1 on aggregate and United advanced to the semifinals.

In the semifinals, United faced off against another Italian team in Juventus. They drew one all at Old Trafford, and had to head off to the Stadio Delle Alpi and win their first ever game on Italian soil or have a 2-2 draw in order for them to advance to the final.

But after allowing two early goals to Juventus, Keane and Yorke both scored before the half, and they now had the lead on away goals, which would allow them to go to the finals.

But they won the game anyway as Cole scored in the 84th minute after Yorke was tripped by the keeper, and United got their first ever win on Italian soil, and now advanced to the final, with the treble now within reach.

On May 26, 1999, Manchester United played against Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou in Barcelona to see who would win the Champions League, and if United would accomplish the treble.

However, Keane and Scholes were both suspended for the final for picking up yellow cards against Juventus, which caused them to be suspended for the final, so Jesper Blomqvist and Nicky Butt were substituted for them in the final. In the sixth minute, Mario Basler scored on a free kick that curved into the far corner off a free kick, and it gave Munich a 1-0 lead.

Even after Munich struck multiple posts and forced Schmeichel to make several unbelievable saves, the score was still 1-0. Ferguson finally decided that changes had to be made if United was going to win this game, so in the 67th minute, Sheringham came in for Blomqvist, and in the 81st minute, Solskjær came in for Cole.

These subs then took away Munich's momentum, and they gave United control of the game. Then as injury time begun, one of the greatest comebacks in sports history started.

United won a corner at the beginning of the three minutes of injury time as Beckham took it and Schmeichel ran up to join the United offensive. Munich got the ball and tried to clear, but United regained the ball as Giggs took a shot, but Sheringham came in and redirected into the back of the net to tie up the game at one.

Then, United won yet another corner, and Beckham again took the kick, as it found Sheringham's head, who directed it to Solskjær, who kicked it into the back of the net, and gave United a shocking 2-1 lead.

Right after Munich got the ball at kickoff, United cleared it, and the game ended with a Manchester United 2-1 win in the Champions League final, and they accomplished the treble in one of the greatest moments ever in Champions League history.

As United got the trophy, Schmeichel and Ferguson lifted up the trophy together as the impossible dream had now become a reality.

Afterwards, Ferguson was knighted for his services to football for being the manager of the team that won the treble, and becoming Sir Alex Ferguson. United also became the first team to ever win the current Champions League after not winning any major championships the previous season. Schmeichel left the team after eight unbelievable years of services to United, and United started to focus onto the next season.

Finally, the 1998-99 season for Manchester United was truly one of the greatest achievements in sports history, along with football history. To this day, Manchester United supporters take great pride in what their team did back in 1999, and they will never forget that.

To this day, no European club since then has been able to accomplish the Treble, and it seems that only a really special team could ever be able to do that.

Finally, the 1999 Manchester United side is one of the greatest teams in sports and in football history, and what they did ten years ago will always be remembered.

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