When Solskjaer kept the treble dreams alive by sinking Liverpool…

by Omar Soliman

Looking back, I wasn’t really prepared for my first Liverpool match. Sky had won the TV rights so it was an early kick-off yet hatred filled the air when their team bus arrived. I tried to compute all the heavily garnished insults but, even as a teenager, most escaped me. This was also my first time in the Stretford End and stood directly opposite were a collection of rats, or so I was told.

For 86 minutes, Liverpool led through a Michael Owen header and I was gradually losing faith. Roy Keane had a shot cleared off the line by Paul Ince, another shot deflected agonisingly wide and another smashed off the post as the ball simply refused to go in. It was not going to be our day.

However, this was 1999 when United were not to be denied.

Dwight Yorke equalised from an Andrew Cole knock-down and in the brief interlude between goals I excitedly told my Dad that we’d smash them at Anfield. The referee still hadn’t blown and Liverpool were hanging on as Jaap Stam lofted a hopeful punt towards their box. Chaos loomed as Paul Scholes scrambled for the ball but was pushed aside by the calmest person in M16.

To this day, I cannot work out how Ole Solskjaer remained so unruffled, so ruthless as he collected the ball and struck it between bodies and legs into the net. Bedlam erupted and thousands remained simply to goad those across the pitch.

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