On this day: Norman Whiteside fires Manchester United to Wembley

Norman Whiteside in action for Manchester United against Everton on May 18, 1985.
© Getty Images
Thirty-one years ago today, teenager Norman Whiteside scores the winning goal as Manchester United defeat Arsenal 2-1 in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Despite the fact that he had scored the 1983 League Cup final's opening goal, Norman Whiteside departed Wembley visibly upset after his Manchester United side had been defeated 2-1 by arch rivals and holders Liverpool.

The 17-year-old regained his composure three weeks later and 31 years ago today as Villa Park played host to United and Arsenal, with a place in the final of the FA Cup at stake.

However, despite a bright start by Ron Atkinson's side, it appeared that it was going to be another disappointing afternoon for Whiteside and United when the Gunners broke the deadlock in the 36th minute. Goalkeeper Gary Bailey failed to hold Vladimir Petrovic's cross and Tony Woodcock capitalised to prod in from close range.

The scoreline remained 1-0 to Arsenal going into the break, but United responded just four minutes after the restart. Ashley Grimes crossed from the left for Bryan Robson, who shrugged off the attention of Brian Talbot, before rolling a shot across George Wood and into the far corner of the net.

Robson then had two further chances in quick succession as United started to dominate proceedings, but on both occasions Wood denied the midfielder.

The Arsenal keeper was powerless to prevent United from taking the lead in the 70th minute, though. Full-back Arthur Albiston's hopeful pass forward was met by an unmarked Whiteside, who lashed a half-volley beyond the reach of a helpless Wood.

That goal forced the North Londoners into action and it appeared that they were going to equalise when Graham Rix crossed for Woodcock, but the England centre-forward failed to make a clean contact as Bailey went untested.

The tie's final act saw United defender Kevin Moran leave the pitch covered in blood, but there wasn't enough time remaining for Arsenal to exploit that absence as the final whistle was blown just moments later.

ARSENAL: Wood; Hollins, O'Leary, Whyte, Sansom; Petrovic, Talbot, Robson, Davis, Rix; Woodcock

MAN UNITED: Bailey; Duxbury, Moran, McQueen, Albiston; Moses, Wilkins, Robson, Grimes; Stapleton, Whiteside

Bryan Robson shakes hands with Diego Maradona before Manchester United face Barcelona on March 21, 1984.
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