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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Nistelrooy leads Man U into final

Nistelrooy leads Man U into final

April 18, 2005 15:12 IST

Holders Manchester United will play Arsenal in the FA Cup final next month after crushing Newcastle United 4-1 in a largely one-sided semi-final at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday.

Two goals from Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, his first since his injury in November, and efforts from Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo sealed an emphatic win at a rain-lashed stadium whose moveable roof was open to leaden grey skies.

Shola Ameobi scored for outclassed Newcastle, who looked tired and off the pace after a 4-1 defeat to Sporting saw them eliminated in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals on Thursday.

Manchester United effectively had the match won by halftime as goals from Van Nistelrooy after 19 minutes and a 44th minute header from Scholes put them into a commanding lead.

Second half strikes from Van Nistelrooy after 58 minutes and Cristiano Ronaldo (76th) sealed United's place in the final for the 17th time, equalling Arsenal's record set on Saturday when they beat Blackburn Rovers 3-0 in the first semi-final.

Newcastle's hopes were briefly revived when Ameobi scored from an acute angle through goalkeeper Tim Howard's legs to pull the deficit back to 3-1 after 59 minutes but United were never seriously troubled again and finished as comfortable winners.


United, who have won the cup a record 11 times, have never lifted the trophy in successive years, a feat last achieved by Arsenal in 2002 and 2003.

United now have a chance to match that achievement by beating the outgoing English champions in the May 21 final that represents the only chance of silverware for either team this season.

It will also be their first meeting in the final since 1979 when Arsenal won 3-2 after a dramatic finale in which United pulled back to 2-2 in the last five minutes before Arsenal scored the winner with virtually the last kick of the game.

Alex Ferguson's side will take heart from the fact that they ended Arsenal's 49-match unbeaten league run earlier this season at Old Trafford, and then beat them 4-2 at Highbury in February while also defeating them in a League Cup quarter-final.

Sunday's match was in stark contrast to Saturday's encounter at the Millennium Stadium, which is also the venue for the final, when Blackburn's physically rugged approach against Arsenal ruined the game as a spectacle.


Although outplayed, Newcastle at least tried to go for goals rather than smother United but the holders were too clever, too fast, always in control and thoroughly deserved to win an eighth successive FA Cup semi-final under Ferguson since 1986.

Defeat left in tatters Newcastle's hopes of a first domestic trophy since their sixth and last FA Cup in 1955 and completed a miserable week for Graeme Souness's men.

Newcastle had to play without the suspended Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer, who were banned after being sent off for fighting each other two weeks ago in the league against Aston Villa.

Van Nistelrooy, who last scored for United on November 27 before his long layoff, scored after 19 minutes by turning in a low cross from Cristiano Ronaldo despite scuffing his shot which eluded Shay Given and crept in at the keeper's right-hand post.

United's Portugal winger was also the provider for their second goal, which came off Scholes's head 40 seconds before halftime with the former England midfielder looping the ball high and wide over the despairing Given.

Van Nistelrooy made it 3-0 after being set up by Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo added the fourth after a sweeping move that involved Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Van Nistelrooy.

Besides the goals Quinton Fortune went close for United with a thundering first half volley just over the bar and the outstanding Wayne Rooney tested Given with a powerful 25 metre shot that the keeper spilled, luckily only for a corner.

Newcastle rarely threatened and skipper Alan Shearer's long-time dream of winning the FA Cup with his hometown club never looked like coming true. He was marked out of the match for long periods and only managed one tame shot near the end.

Former United stalwart Nicky Butt had a miserable game in midfield against his old team while Newcastle's defence simply could not cope with United's blistering counter-attacking moves.

Central defender Jean-Alain Boumsong and fullback Stephen Carr, in particular, had games they would rather forget.

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