ENGLISH FA CUP

Millennium Stadium, Wales

Referee: J Winter | Attendance: 71350

* Local time based on your geographic location.

Manchester United

  • Cristiano Ronaldo 44'
  • Ruud van Nistelrooy 65' PEN
  • Ruud van Nistelrooy 81'

3 - 0

FT

Man Utd 3-0 Millwall: FT Report

Cristiano Ronaldo proved his credentials to wear the famed Manchester United

number seven shirt with a dazzling FA Cup-winning display against an outplayed

Millwall side in Cardiff.

Ronaldo's predecessors read like a who's who of United greats, with David

Beckham, Eric Cantona, Bryan Robson and George Best among them.

However, the teenager signed to replace Beckham last summer for the princely

sum of £12.24million is proving week by week that he is more than capable of

rising to the task.

Still just 19, he may occasionally still dive and may even over-elaborate with

an exaggeration of step-overs.

However, in a one-sided cup final, Ronaldo not only lit up the game with his

array of tricks, but provided the end product in scoring the 43rd-minute header

which put United en route to victory.

With Ruud van Nistelrooy also converting a 64th-minute penalty, there was no

way back for their First Division opponents and the Dutchman also struck another

amid more than a hint of offside.

Player-boss Dennis Wise may have dreamed of recreating his part in Wimbledon's

upset of 1988, but this was instead Chelsea's 1994 mauling by United all over

again.

However hard Millwall ran and battled, United were simply a class apart and

while the FA Cup is by no means Sir Alex Ferguson's top priority, it has at

least allowed him a climax to the season.

For while the FA Cup will never replace the Premiership and Champions League,

trophyless seasons are rather unthinkable at Old Trafford.

With Wise adopting an extremely low-key approach before kick-off, Ferguson had

led the teams out alone in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

More strangely, the Millwall boss was just as inconspicuous in the opening

exchanges, preferring to sit deep and try to mark Paul Scholes out of the game.

Then again, Millwall's entire policy was one of containment, with a five-man

midfield and Neil Harris virtually isolated up front on his own as he gamely

chased lost causes.

United initially let them off the hook as van Nistelrooy placed an early

header wide and Roy Keane's volley was superbly tipped over the bar by Andy

Marshall.

It was still rather a half-baked affair, with even a streaker keeping his

clothes on, and Millwall were restricted to rare counter-attacks, mainly through

the lively Paul Ifill.

United first looked to have made the breakthrough just before half-time, only

for Darren Ward to hack the ball off the line after Ronaldo's shot had squirmed

under Marshall's body.

However, it was only a couple of minutes before they did get the goal which

they deserved for their patient siege of the Millwall goal.

When Keane spotted Gary Neville on the overlap, he spread the ball out wide

and, having taken one touch, the England full-back crossed invitingly for

Ronaldo to stoop and head past Marshall.

The Portuguese winger's finish was matched by the superb block tackle by two

stewards on the spectator who charged from the Millwall end to confront the

United goalscorer.

Then again, the club's player-manager was also reacting irresponsibly, with

Wise pulling Scholes to the ground and then pushing away Neville as he lost his

cool in the fiery moments before half-time.

If Ronaldo is tipped for stardom, then Darren Fletcher is also highly rated by

Ferguson and his dazzling run just after the restart deserved a better finish.

Marshall also produced a smart save to deny Scholes, while Wise, who had

finally been booked for leaving his boot in on Ryan Giggs, but did manage to

clear Mikael Silvestre's header off the line.

However, the match was effectively over with 24 minutes left when former

Arsenal trainee David Livermore brought down Giggs in full flight inside the

penalty area.

Van Nistelrooy may have missed three of his previous five spot-kicks,

including rattling the bar against Arsenal at Old Trafford, but this time he

made no mistake.

With the game petering out as a contest, Giggs was able to canter through the

Millwall defence to cross for van Nistelrooy - seemingly offside - to finish

from close range.

Millwall substitute Curtis Weston became the youngest player to play in the FA

Cup final at just 17 years 129 days, while the club are already guaranteed a

place in the UEFA Cup next season.

However, United were a class apart, even if van Nistelrooy was strangely voted

the official man of the match.

Ferguson nevertheless knew exactly who had proved the difference as Ronaldo

was given a warm hug and round of applause from the United boss as he was

substituted late on.

Not bad for a supposed one-trick show pony.

Scoring Summary

  • Manchester United
  • Millwall
 

Match Stats

  • Manchester United
  • Millwall
19(8) Shots (on goal) 3(2)
9 Fouls 17
12 Corner kicks 2
1 Offsides 1
56% Time of Possession 44%
0 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
3 Saves 5

Teams

  • Manchester United
  • Millwall
Substitutes
Substitutions
Yellow Cards
Dennis Wise (49')