OTD: Solo Ryan Giggs goal settles FA Cup semi-final

Back on this day in 1999, a memorable goal from Ryan Giggs helps Manchester United to defeat Arsenal in the semi-final of the FA Cup.

One-club man Ryan Giggs is one of the most decorated footballers to have ever played the game. Still playing at 40 years of age, he has lifted the Premier League trophy on 13 occasions, the FA Cup four times, as well as collecting a winner's medal in the Champions League twice, among a host of other honours.

However, despite all that success, his finest moment in a Manchester United shirt is relatively straightforward to pinpoint.

Fifteen years ago today, Arsenal and United - England's leading clubs - met at Villa Park in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. It was actually a replay, after the two sides had played out a 0-0 draw just three days earlier.

With a Champions League second-leg semi-final with Juventus in Turin on the horizon, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson caused somewhat of a surprise with his team selection. The lethal strike partnership of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were rested on the bench, which presented opportunities to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham. Swedish winger Jesper Blomqvist was also preferred to Giggs.

David Beckham, then of Manchester United, celebrates scoring against Arsenal on April 14, 1999.© Getty Images

Undeterred by the alterations, United started the tie brightly and went on to break the deadlock with 17 minutes on the clock. Sheringham held up possession, before flicking a pass to dead-ball specialist David Beckham 25 yards from goal. From there, the United midfielder curled an effort goalwards that went beyond Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman on its way into the bottom corner of the net.

Chances were few and far between during the remainder of the half, but after the restart Seaman kept Arsenal in the contest. First he stood tall to block from Solskjaer and moments later showed good reflexes to turn away a shot from Blomqvist.

Those stops proved to be crucial in the 69th minute as holders Arsenal drew level through Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutch centre-forward was afforded time 20 yards from goal and although his strike was not the cleanest, it beat Peter Schmeichel with the aid of a deflection off United defender Jaap Stam.

Bergkamp was then involved just a few minutes later as Arsenal believed that they had taken the lead. It was his shot that Schmeichel failed to hold and when Nicolas Anelka rolled in the rebound, it sparked wild celebrations among the North Londoners. What they hadn't noticed, though, was that Arsenal's young striker had been flagged offside, meaning that the scores remained level.

Marc Overmars, then of Arsenal, in possession of the ball against Manchester United on April 14, 1999.© Getty Images

Nevertheless, the pendulum then swung firmly in favour of Arsene Wenger's men when United captain Roy Keane was handed his second yellow card by referee David Elleray for a despairing lunge on Arsenal substitute Marc Overmars.

It appeared that despite their numerical disadvantage, United had held out for extra time, only for Phil Neville to bring down Ray Parlour inside the area in the second minute of stoppage time. Bergkamp stepped up to take the resultant penalty, which had he converted would have sent Arsenal to Wembley. Schmeichel guessed correctly, though, diving to his left left to palm the ball to safety.

Depleted United were weary throughout the added 30 minutes as Arsenal created the majority of the openings. One in particular saw Schmeichel cause himself an injury in denying Bergkamp once again, although he was able to continue after receiving treatment.

Yet, it was United that went on to win the match in the 110th minute thanks to the brilliance of their second-half substitute Giggs. He inherited possession just inside the United half following a misplaced pass by Patrick Vieira. The Welshman then embarked on a weaving run, which saw him beat Vieira, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown, leaving him with space inside the penalty area.

Manchester United's Ryan Giggs scores against Arsenal at Villa Park on April 14, 1999.© Getty Images

Next to attempt to stop the United wideman was Tony Adams, but the centre-back's lunge was rendered meaningless as he powered a shot over Seaman and into the roof of the Arsenal net. As the years have passed, Giggs's celebration, in which he took off his shirt and hurled it around his head, has become just as memorable as the goal!

In the remaining 10 minutes, Arsenal pushed forward in search of another equalising goal, but both Adams and Anelka failed to hit the target from good positions, meaning that United advanced through to the showpiece event at Wembley against Newcastle United.

Speaking after the match, defeated manager Wenger said: "It is not easy to take a defeat, but what you can demand of a team is they give everything. I am very sad today because it was not our night and we were unlucky. That's football. The two teams are very close to each other and in the end the luckiest won."

Meanwhile, a triumphant Ferguson added: "We had a marvellous save from Peter, I think we deserved the win, over the two legs I think we were the better team. "We had no complaints about the sending off of Roy Keane, the players have played in agony to get the victory."

ARSENAL: Seaman; Dixon, Adams, Keown, Winterburn; Parlour (Kanu), Vieira, Petit (Bould), Ljungberg (Overmars); Anelka, Bergkamp

MAN UNITED: Schmeichel; G Neville, Johnsen, Stam, P Neville; Beckham, Butt, Keane, Blomqvist (Giggs); Solskjaer (Yorke), Sheringham (Scholes)

Danny Higginbotham in action for Manchester United against Watford on April 29, 2000
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