20 May, 1995
EVERTON 1-0 Manchester United
FA Cup Final
Everton, who began the season with the worst League start in the club's history, ended it by winning the FA Cup for the fifth time after a performance of persistence and determination. Manchester United, defenders of the Double, saw their towering twin achievements ebb away under the twin towers of Wembley. Pre-match favourites United were deemed too classy for the Blues and a very one sided encounter was expected.
Deflated, United slumped to the turf at the end, having ended with nothing after seven days of so near but yet so far. They threw everything at the Blues, including Peter Schmeichel, who went upfield late on, but found Everton legend, Neville Southall in unbeatable form. Paul Rideout's first-half goal was the difference between the sides in an absorbing match, although one, which rarely displayed high quality.
The team news for both sides, and also for those hoping for an early goal to open up the contest, was bad. Duncan Ferguson was not deemed sufficiently fit by Joe Royle, after a recent hernia operation and took a place on the substitute's bench. Neither did Daniel Amokachi get a start, left on the bench as Graham Stuart partnered Rideout up front. For Manchester United, Alex Ferguson kept Ryan Giggs, who had not played for a month because of a hamstring injury, in reserve.
As United emerged from the players' tunnel, without the sight of Eric Cantona, Andy Cole and Andrei Kanchelskis, the Everton players must have been given a boost. Mark Hughes, whose best days were probably behind him, was to spearhead the attack, United started with a five-man midfield to combat Everton's "dogs of war".
The match developed into a tough tackling affair, with United initially imposing themselves and the referee, Gerald Ashby, coming close to over-leniency. And it was United who fashioned the first real chance, Lee Sharpe heading Nicky Butt's cross over the bar at the far post.
Everton, however, had shown what they were capable of. When Joe Parkinson played in Anders Limpar, Schmeichel had to be alert to keep out his low shot to the near post. On the half hour the Blues took the lead. Ince lost the ball in midfield and suddenly United were out-numbered four to two in defence. Limpar switched the ball wide to Matt Jackson on the right, and after Stuart had turned his low cross on to the bar, Rideout rose to head home for his 16th goal of the season.
Now Everton were flowing, Limpar floating infield and aiming some penetrative darts into the heart of the United defence, where Steve Bruce appeared to be struggling with an injury to his thigh. Limpar once again robbed the ball from Ince and almost set up Stuart for a second, but his shot was well gathered by the Danish international Schmeichel. When the half-time whistle went, it came as a relief to a United side in need of respite and reorganisation.
Bruce was unable to restart the second half and United now brought on Giggs, moving Keane to right-back and Gary Neville into the centre of defence.
Although they had lost their captain, United hoped that they might now improve as an attacking force. The Blues introduced Duncan Ferguson for the hobbling Rideout, and soon he was rounding Gary Pallister before cutting back a tricky ball that Neville managed to turn away.
United, however, were now beginning to assert themselves more and Giggs, in particular, was showing his talent. His low ball in from the left had Everton scrambling and, with Brian McClair left appealing for a penalty for hand-ball as David Unsworth challenged, Sharpe failed to connect with the ball in a yard of space.
Everton brought on semi-final hero, Amokachi, and United's last throw of the dice was Paul Scholes who was put on up front to partner Hughes. In a rare moment of freedom from the shackles of the outstanding David Unsworth, Hughes nearly equalised after being put through by Giggs until Southall intervened with a stunning double save and the cup was bound for Goodison for a fifth time.