Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 22 September 2020

The trophy that saved Fergie: the last time Man Utd met Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final

The 1990 final was forced to go to a replay after the original match finished 3-3.

Mark Hughes scored twice against Crystal Palace in the first match.
Mark Hughes scored twice against Crystal Palace in the first match.
Image: EMPICS Sport

THESE TWO SIDES last competed in a FA Cup final 26 years ago in what was the first cup final of the 1990s with dodgy mustaches, needlessly short shorts and fashionable visors all in attendance at Wembley.

Steve Coppell selected an all-English side in the final, a feat that has not been repeated in the 26 years since, with the Crystal Palace squad including current manager Alan Pardew along with Nigel Martyn, Mark Bright, John Salako and Ian Wright.

The south London club reached the final by beating Liverpool in a dramatic semi-final at Villa Park with Pardew netting the winner in extra time to seal a famous 4-3 victory.

The win was made all the more sweet after the Reds had beaten Palace 9-0 in the league earlier in the season.

Saturday will mark Palace’s second appearance in the FA Cup final, with the Eagles still yet to win a major trophy in their 110-year history. Manchester United on the other hand will be competing in a record-equaling 19th final come Saturday evening.

United’s run in the FA Cup in the 1989-90 season was perhaps most notable for a goal not scored in the final – but in the third round.

Having spent significant money in the transfer market, Alex Ferguson’s position was under mounting pressure after he failed to win any of the previous eight league games, but a goal from Mark Robins at Nottingham Forest ensured his side progressed to the fourth round of the competition and reportedly saved Ferguson from the sack.

Palace’s side for the final was made up of players that were either rejected by the bigger clubs or players that had to fight their way up through the leagues – the entire cost of the Palace starting line-up costing a fraction of Ferguson’s side.

Despite the financial gulf between the two teams, the final was one of the most thrilling in the competition’s history, a topsy-turvy affair that finished 3-3 after extra time.

Ian Wright Ian Wright came off the bench to score twice in the first encounter. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Gary O’Reilly opened the scoring for the underdogs but goals from captain Bryan Robson and Mark Hughes looked to have given Alex Ferguson his first trophy in England, but a goal from Ian Wright a couple of minutes after coming on as a substitute forced the game into extra time.

Wright would go on get another in the additional period before Hughes came to United’s rescue and force a replay.

Source: mattyredman/YouTube

Five days later it was left-back Lee Martin that proved to be the unlikely hero for United in the replay with the defender firing home the winner in the second-half.

Source: mattyredman/YouTube

United have gone on to win the famous trophy on four more occasions since the 1990 final but whether the competition proves to be the lifeline to Louis van Gaal as it did for Alex Ferguson remains to be seen.

The42 is on Snapchat! Tap the button below on your phone to add!

The world transfer record was controversially smashed on this day in 1990

‘It’s a sad day for United’: When the club waved goodbye to their King

About the author:

Shane Costello

Read next: