Double Delight: Cantona Downs Blues

From the Archives

Date: 14th May, 1994

Chelsea: 0 

Manchester United: 4 (Cantona pen 2, Hughes, McClair)

Attendance: 79,634

To take the misery away from the weekends 0-1 defeat at Chelsea, this week we will be looking at one of our finer days over the team from West London.

The FA Cup final of 1994, a time when United were challenging for a league and cup double. The title, having been wrapped up a week previous, was already in the Old Trafford trophy cabinet. Chelsea had completed the double over United that season. Both games were decided by a single Gavin Peacock strike. United though, were in no mood to let it be a third time.

As with all cup finals, the game began in quite cagey fashion. Both teams sizing each other up, desperate not to make an early mistake. With the first half moving on, Chelsea began to take the game in their stride. First Mark Stein, put through by Eddie Newton, could only fire straight at the oncoming Schmeichel.

Gavin Peacock, who had already put United to the sword on two occasions already this season, fired a dipping half volley, which beat Peter Schmeichel all ends up, but cannoned back off the Manchester United crossbar.

Chelsea didn’t want half time to come, whereas United were desperate for it. The Red Devils began to pick up some momentum at the beginning of the second half. Ryan Giggs, picking up the ball on the left flank before his overhit touch, found its way into the path of full back, Denis Irwin. Irwin, just nipping in before Eddie Newton, who scythed down the Irishman. David Ellery had no hesitation but to point to the spot. Eric Cantona was on spot-kick duty and duly sent the Chelsea keeper, Dimitri Kharine, the wrong way. 1-0 with the goal coming on the hour mark.

United didn’t have to wait long for a second. Mark Hughes spraying a ball out to the right for winger Andrei Kanchelskis to chase. Kanchelskis was in a foot race with Chelsea defender Frank Sinclair. Sinclair shoulder barged Kanchelskis who went sprawling to the floor and to the amazement of the whole of Wembley, was awarded a penalty. Chelsea were up in arms. Cantona though was the coolest man in the stadium. This time placing his kick in the exact same place as the first. 2-0.

Glen Hoddle, Chelsea’s player-manager at the time, unzipped his tracksuit and headed on to the pitch. The damage was already done and well beyond any repair. United had their tails up and were in scintillating form.

In just nine second-half minutes, United had scored three goals and put this cup final to bed. In fact, the third goal was nearly missed as the BBC were still showing the replay of the second penalty. A big kick upfield from Schmeichel looked to be heading safely towards Frank Sinclair except the Chelsea defender slipped on the wet Wembley turf, allowing Mark Hughes to bear down on goal and fire the ball into the far bottom corner. 3-0

Another long ball caught the Blues defence napping. Cantona breaking through and with only the keeper to beat to complete his hat-trick, nonchalantly just rolled it wide of the post.

Chelsea were on the canvas, out for the count. If this were a boxing match, the ref would have stopped the match by now. Fortunately for United and substitute Brian McClair, there was just enough time to grab a fourth goal. United broke at speed and a delightful ball from Hughes set Paul Ince on his bike. Ince rounded Kharine and with the goal at his mercy and only one Chelsea defender on the line to shoot past, unselfishly rolled it square across to McClair, who tapped in to make it two goals in two finals for the Scot.

The double was complete. A rare win over United’s bogey team. Something which needs to change, in the not too distant future.

Chelsea:

Kharine, Sinclair, Clarke, Johnson, Kjeldberg, Wise, Newton, Burley, Peacock, Stein, Spencer

Manchester United:

Schmeichel, Parker, Irwin, Pallister, Bruce, Kanchelskis, Keane, Ince, Giggs, Cantona, Hughes

About the Author

John McNicoll
Southern Red and Football enthusiast.