Manchester United were the winners of the European Cup Winners` Cup in 1991 after winning the F.A. Cup at England`s national Wembley stadium, London, in the second attempt after the Final ended in a 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace and a replay was required. Then left back, Lee Martin, ran the length of the pitch on a speculative run that led to his being sought out by a long ball from England midfielder, Neil Webb, which fell into Lee Martin`s stride in the 59th minute and he crashed the ball delightedly into the roof of the net, 1-0. Scot Alex Ferguson`s team had benefited from the return of Mark Hughes from Spanish giant, F. C. Barcelona, where he`d been transferred by former Manchester United manager, Ron Atkinson, for £2 million before the start of the 1986-87 season; despite being United top scorer for the previous two seasons with 16 goals in 1984-85 and 17 in 1985-86. Atkinson was sacked largely because of his inscrutable transferring of Hughes, and Aberdeen manager, Alex Ferguson, arrived after winning the European Cup Winners` Cup with Aberdeen in 1983 against Real Madrid, 2-1, to pay Barcelona £1. 8 million to restore Hughes to the team for the 1988-89 season in which he scored 14 goals and never dipped below double figures for a season until his last with United, 1994-95, when he scored 8 goals as the club finished second in the league to new monied Blackburn Rovers and lost the F.A. Cup Final, 0-1, to Everton.
In the 1990 F.A. Cup Final Crystal Palace had taken the lead in the 18th minute at a free kick when center back, Gary O` Reilly, headed home. United equalized in the 35th minute after Brian McClair ran down the right wing and sent over a cross to the far post where England captain, Bryan Robson, headed on and into the net. Hughes had given United a 2-1 lead in the 62nd minute forcing home a cross-shot from England right midfielder, Neil Webb, before a mazy run past two United defenders resulted in a successful strike on goal from Palace substitute forward, Ian Wright, who`d come on in the 69th minute, and scored in the 72nd minute of normal time. There followed another strike from Wright who volleyed home a floated cross to the back post by right winger, John Salako, in the 92nd minute of extra time. At 3-2 to Palace Mark Hughes then scored again in the 113th minute after he chased a through ball from United winger, Danny Wallace, and slotted it home past Palace `keeper, Nigel Martyn, which set the stage for Lee Martin`s dramatic 59th minute winner in the replay, 1-0, and United had qualified for the 1991 European Cup Winners` Cup competition that Alex Ferguson had won with Aberdeen in 1983.
Manchester United`s route to the Final in the Netherlands` Fejenoord Stadion, Rotterdam, against F. C. Barcelona, Welshman Mark Hughes` former club, passed without a hitch in the first and second rounds, with a 3-0 aggregate win against Pécs of Hungary and a 5-0 aggregate win against Wrexham of Wales. France`s Montpellier proved more difficult, and United had to overcome the disappointment of a Brian McClair 1st minute strike cancelled out by a Lee Martin own goal in the 8th minute to give the French a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. Following a run down the left wing by Lee Sharpe who, at the goal line, cut the ball back into the penalty area, center forward, McClair, slid in to finish the move with a right foot shot to the left of the French `keeper. Then followed the bizarre own goal by Lee Martin in the 8th minute, who with his right boot side footed a low cross from Polish left wing, Jacek Ziober, into the United net past amazed `keeper, Les Sealey. United then had to win away, which they did, 2-0, after a goal on half-time from emergency left back replacement, midfielder Clayton Blackmore, whose right footed long range kick was inexplicably pushed into his own net as it bounced in front of the Montpellier `keeper, Barrabé, and soon after that a 48th minute Steve Bruce penalty put the contest beyond the French, when Blackmore collapsed some distance outside the penalty area clutching his chin, after a tackle by a defender out near the right edge of the `keeper`s area. Legia Warsaw of Poland proved equally difficult at Old Trafford, 1-1. Despite a spectacular opening goal from left winger, Lee Sharpe, who crashed a shot from the corner of the goal area into the top left corner of the `keeper`s net in the 28th minute, in the 57th minute a long ball from inside his own half was chested down by Kowalczyk with United center back, Gary Pallister, only able to keep pace with him as he ran at goal and put the ball through `keeper Les Sealey`s legs as he came out of his penalty area to close the Polish striker down, but the team had already proved hardier than their Polish opponents with a 3-1 win in Warsaw.
The Polish team had taken the lead through Cyzio who, receiving a pass from wide on the right in the 37th minute, took it on towards the United goal where, keeping the ball on his right side during his run, he drove a right footed shot low and to the right of United`s `keeper, Les Sealey, and into the net. United equalized almost immediately in the 38th minute when left back, Lee Martin, crossed into the penalty area to where `keeper, Robakiewicz, seemed to have the ball in his grasp close to the turf, but he failed to make it safe, and the ball bobbled out to where Bryan Robson aimed to strike it at goal. Brian McClair, standing almost on the goal line, forced it in. A second came in the 54th minute when Mark Hughes, cutting in from the right made a feint as if to strike the ball at goal, and then took it further before unleashing a right foot shot that hit the inside of the left post low down and bounced off and into the net. United made it 3-1 in the 67th minute after a right footed chip from Hughes on the right was headed inside the penalty area by McClair and the ball fell in front of center half, Steve Bruce, who carefully made sure that the ball traveled safely into the goal off his right boot. In the Final Hughes scored in the 67th minute after a Bryan Robson free kick was headed into the goal by center back Steve Bruce although Hughes was adjudged to have been the player to score after forcing it into the net to make sure it crossed the line. Hughes scored again from an acute angle on 74th minutes before Barca`s defensive Netherlands` midfielder, Ronald Koeman, struck with a free kick in the 79th minute to give United a nervous last 10 minutes before celebrating. The Cup Winners` Cup was competed for on only a further three occasions before Manchester United`s success in winning it was abolished along with the trophy itself in 1999 by UEFA.
That year a similar fate overtook the Intercontinental Cup, which Manchester United finally won at the second attempt. In United`s first attempt after qualifying by winning the 1968 European Cup, 4-1, against Portugal`s Benfica, the Argentine team Estudiantes, `the students`, who`d qualified for the Final of the Intercontinental Cup by winning the Championship of South America, the Copa Libertadores, or `cup of freedom`, beat United in the away leg in Buenos Aires, 1-0, with a 27th minute headed goal from Marcus Conigliaro after a corner sent over by his striking partner, Filipe Ribaudo. The Argentinians drew 1-1 at Old Trafford, Manchester, after right winger, Juan Ramón Verón, La Bruja, `the witch`, had tormented United by scoring the opening headed goal at Old Trafford in the 6th minute after a free-kick from defender, Raúl Madero, which had left United too much to do, 0-1, and despite a late 90th minute strike from Scots` right winger, Willie Morgan, Estudiantes took the trophy, 2-1, on aggregate. In 1999 the story was different. United qualified as winners of the European Cup, 2-1, after two very late strikes by Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against Bayern Munich at Spain`s Barcelona Nou Camp stadium. The German team had led since the 6th minute through a low free kick from forward, Mario Basler, which was awarded after United center back, Ronny Johnsen, brought down Carsten Jancker. With his right foot Basler bent the ball around the United wall from just outside the penalty area, and into the net beyond Danish `keeper Peter Schmeichel. United`s despair ended in a late attacking flourish of the never say die footballing style for which they are justifiably famed. United had a corner, and with little time left `keeper Schmeichel, who`d scored in similar circumstances, ventured up to Bayern's penalty area. Beckham flighted the corner in just over Schmeichel's head, and center forward, Dwight Yorke, 18 goals in the league that season, put the ball back towards the crowded area. Bayern substitute midfielder, Thorsten Fink, had been brought on by Bayern manager, Ottmar Hitzfeld, who`d receive much criticism for it, because Fink replaced sweeper Lothar Matthäus, 37 years of age, and Hitzfeld clearly felt he was a tired risk by the 80th minute, but Fink failed to clear a ball that probably wouldn`t ever have troubled Matthäus, and the ball arrived at the feet of Ryan Giggs, whose shot fortuitously found Sheringham, who latched onto it gleefully to swipe it into the bottom corner of the net with his right boot in the 91st minute. Neither Sheringham nor Solskjaer were chosen to start against Bayern, and as Sheringham was on for left winger, Jesper Blomqvist, in the 67th minute, Solskjaer, who`d scored 12 league goals that season, replaced center forward, Andy Cole (17), in the 81st minute almost immediately after Lothar Matthäus left the fray.
Sheringham had scored only twice in the league, but had redeemed himself by scoring with a low drive under Newcastle `keeper Steve Harper after a through ball from Scholes, in the F.A. Cup Final, which United won, 2-0, and so Sheringham had been picked to be amongst the substitutes. Within 30 seconds of the restart after Sheringham`s substitute`s strike, another Beckham corner found the head of Sheringham, who nodded the ball down across the face of goal to where Solskjær, reacting quickly, stuck out his boot and poked the ball into the roof of the Bayern net in the 93rd minute. Matthäus` departure had ultimately sunk Bayern, and Hitzfelt was blamed, but United`s never say die attitude had won through for them again and the European Cup was theirs for only the second time in the club`s history since Benfica were beaten, 4-1, at London`s Wembley stadium in 1968. United lost the subsequent Intercontinental Cup Final, 1-2, to Estudiantes of Argentina that year, but in 1999 the club faced Brazil`s Palmeiras and won, 1-0, with a goal from indefatigable midfield creator-destroyer Roy Keane, who forced the ball in at the far post from a left wing cross by Welsh winger, Ryan Giggs, in the 35th minute. FIFA almost immediately abolished the competition, so abolishing United`s victory, by inaugurating the World Club Cup, in which the club were invited to compete in 2000.
Although the World Club Cup was competed for in 2000 and won by Corinthians of Brazil against Brazil`s Vasco De Gama on penalties, 4-3, after a 0-0 draw and extra time, it wasn`t competed for again until 2005, and so the Intercontinental Cup was allowed to continue until 2005. After 2005 the Intercontinental Cup was abolished, so abolishing United`s achievement in winning the trophy in 1999. Declaring Brazil`s Corinthians World Club Cup winners in 2000, FIFA effectively then abolished the World Club Cup until 2005, so leaving Brazil`s Corinthians undisputed champions of the world after Manchester United had become Champions of South America and Europe by winning the 1999 Intercontinental Cup Final, 1-0, against Brazil`s Palmeiras to become `unofficial` World Club champions. United`s victory so upset the prestige of Spanish colonial soccer in South America that FIFA had to abolish the Intercontinental Cup and make Brazil`s Corinthians indisputable World Club champions by abolishing the World Club Cup after Brazil`s Corinthians won it in 2000. Or, in other words, having established the World Club Cup, FIFA endeavored to allow Brazil`s Corinthians to remain unopposed forever after they`d won it, lest Manchester United, `unofficial` World Club champions of 1999, became able to try to wrest it away from the South Americans.
When Manchester United qualified for the 2008 World Club Cup semi-final against Japanese team, Gamba Osaka, and won 5-3, it was through beating English side, Chelsea in the European Cup Final at the Luzhniki stadium, Moscow, 6-5 on penalties after a 26th minute headed goal by United`s Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, from a left footed cross out on the right wing by right back, Wes Brown, was cancelled out in the 45th minute by a strike from Chelsea`s Frank Lampard after a trademark surging run from midfield. In the 28th minute, Serbian central defender, Nemanja Vidić, from Ryan Giggs’ corner out-jumped Gamba captain, Satoshi Yamaguchi, to power home a header past `keeper, Yosuke Fujigaya, from 12 yards, 1-0. Portuguese right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, put United 2-0 up in first-half injury time. Again the ball came from a Giggs` corner, and again the Japanese struggled to cope with the aerial threat. Myojin was out-jumped as Ronaldo directed a powerful header past `keeper, Fujigay. United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, didn`t bring on his star striker, England`s Wayne Rooney, until the 74th minute, but Gamba Osaka immediately pulled the score back to 2-1, courtesy of striker, Masato Yamakazi, with a shot from the right well outside the penalty area. A minute later, however, Rooney finished well, after a long ball from Scots` central midfielder, Darren Fletcher, split open the Japanese defence, 3-1. Fletcher then headed in French left back Patrice Evra`s cross, 4-1. In the 78th minute, and after linking up well with left-winger, Giggs, Rooney made it 5-1 a minute later. United conceded a penalty, 2-5, when United`s England right back, Gary Neville, was adjudged to have handled a cross from the left wing, and in the 85th minute Yasuhito Endō calmly scored from the spot, 2-5. Hideo Hashimoto scored in second half injury time in a way almost identical to Yamakazi`s first half effort, 1-2. From the right and well outside the penalty area, Hashimoto struck the ball past Dutch `keeper, Edwin Van er Sar, 3-5, but United were through to the World Club Cup Final against LDU Quito of Peru.
In the Final at the International Stadium Yokohama, Nemanja Vidić was sent off in the 49th minute, and England`s center forward Wayne Rooney was, like the other remaining ten United players, conserving his energies to cover the ground of a teammate lost. That was the solution. Remaining where he was at the left corner of the LDU Quito area, Wayne played the ball back to left sided Brazilian midfielder, Anderson. He then waited while Anderson played the ball into the path of England right central midfielder, Michael Carrick, in front of the LDU Quito area. Carrick pushed the ball forward to Manchester United right winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, inside the LDU Quito area with two players in attendance. With his back to the goal, Cristiano Ronaldo turned to his right and slipped the ball to Wayne, who was still waiting at the left edge of the LDU Quito area where he`d begun the play. Rooney drove a shot low and right footed into the right corner of the LDU Quito net. To lurk on the edge of the box and wait for his 73rd minute opportunity to score was Rooney`s clever energy conserving strategy, and it gave the team the cushion it needed to withstand later LDU Quito pressure to win the World Club Cup for Manchester United, although the club had lost two trophies, the European Cup Winners Cup and the Intercontinental Cup, to those aborters.