Memory Match: Crystal Palace v Manchester United, 1990

Date published: Friday 20th May 2016 8:04

FA Cup Final: Fans hoping for a repeat of the final 26 years ago

Manchester United meet Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final this Saturday, and we take a look back at the last time the two sides walked together down Wembley Way.

Crystal Palace 3 Manchester United 3 

On September 12, 1989, Liverpool humiliated Crystal Palace with a record 9-0 thumping at Anfield in the old First Division. The teams met again later in the season and this time, remarkably, Palace won a thrilling FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park, 4-3 after extra-time.

That set up a cup final against Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United at Wembley, with the Scottish coach looking for his first major honour in England.

Fergie’s Red Devils drew 3-3 with Oldham Athletic on the same day as Palace’s triumph over Liverpool. Three days later in the replay, Brian McClair and Mark Robins settled the replay, 2-1.

Despite the gulf in size between the two clubs now, it is interesting to note that United were in their first final in five years after a 13th-placed Division One finish, with 48 points – the same amount as Palace.

Centre-back Gary O’Reilly put them ahead as the ball took a deflection off Gary Pallister’s head, looping over Jim Leighton in the United goal to give the South Londoners a lead.

Crystal Palace

Bryan Robson levelled the contest with a header that seemed to bamboozle Martyn in the Palace goal, and two minutes after the hour mark Mark Hughes put the Reds ahead.

Pallister was left with twisted blood by the 26-year-old Ian Wright, who announced himself with a key equaliser as the game went into extra-time.

Remarkably, Palace then took an extra-time lead, as Manchester Evening News recall.

“Wright popped up at the far post to beat a wayward Leighton in the 92nd minute from John Salako’s cross and Palace were minutes away from their first major trophy.”

However, United were not to be denied, asHughes accepted Danny Wallace’s pass and coolly converted to make it 3-3 in the 112th minute.

The Red Devils would go on to win the replay 1-0, as Andy Gray scored a fantastic goal to bag Ferguson his first honour south of the border.


Crystal Palace: Martyn, Pemberton, Shaw, Gray, O’Reilly, Thorn, Barber, Thomas, Bright, Salako, Pardew. Subs: Wright, Madden.

Goals: O’Reilly 18, Wright 72 +92.

Manchester United: Leighton, Ince, Martin, Bruce, Phelan, Pallister, Robson, Webb, McClair, Hughes, Wallace. Subs: Robins, Blackmore.

Goals: Robson 35, Hughes 62 + 113.

Manchester United 4

What they said

Alan Pardew, who was a player for Palace in the final, reflected on a dramatic day, drawing similarities to the upcoming final.

“I remember Sir Alex’s career hinged on that game and maybe LVG’s career will hinge on this.”

“We paid a bit of homage to that side with the flick-on for the corner,” added Pardew. “Steve Coppell can take a bit of credit for that one.

“This is a different team, with a different spirit, but the characteristics are similar to 1990. They are hard-working, diligent, with good defenders and some pace on the attack.

“I just hope the destiny isn’t the same result in the final.”

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