FA Cup 2004
Having lost ground in the second half of the league season to eventual champions Arsenal, United at least ended 2003/04 on a high with an 11th FA Cup victory.
It was the Reds’ first triumph in the famous competition since the Treble-winning season of 1999, and Sir Alex’s fifth overall, putting him one behind the all-time record held by Aston Villa’s George Ramsey.
Sir Alex declared afterwards that United could regard the season as a success because “the realistic target for any club must be to hope that they will finish the season by winning one trophy”.
The 3-0 victory over Millwall at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium was about as one-sided as cup finals come, though the Lions held out until just before half-time.
Then Cristiano Ronaldo, who produced a truly world-class performance, headed United’s opener, to which Ruud van Nistelrooy added a second-half brace with a penalty and a tap-in.
United had been given a tough route to the final, but saw off Aston Villa, Northampton, Man City and Fulham, before memorably defeating league ‘invincibles’ Arsenal 1-0 in the semi-final at Villa Park, with a goal from Paul Scholes.
United’s run to the 2004 FA Cup final:
Aston Villa 1-2 United
(Barry 19; Scholes 64, 68)
Northampton 0-3 United
(Silvestre, Hargreaves 47 og, Forlan 68)
United 4-2 Man City
(Scholes 34, Van Nistelrooy 71, 80, Ronaldo 74; Tarnat 78, Fowler 86)
United 2-1 Fulham
(Van Nistelrooy 25, 62; Malbranque 23 pen)
Arsenal 0-1 United
United 3-0 Millwall
(Ronaldo 44, Van Nistelrooy 65 pen, 81)
United’s final line-up
Howard (Carroll 84); G Neville, Brown, Silvestre, O’Shea; Ronaldo (Solskjaer 84), Fletcher (Butt 84), Keane, Giggs; Scholes; Van Nistelrooy. Subs not used: P Neville, Djemba-Djemba.