Manchester United 3 Millwall 0

Saturday 22nd May 2004
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Manchester United ended their season on a high after an emphatic victory on Saturday was rewarded with the FA Cup.

After battling past Aston Villa, Northampton Town, Manchester City, Fulham and Arsenal, Millwall proved to be no match for United. It was obvious that Millwall were first division opposition - United were given such time and space on the ball that they never receive in the Premier League.

And they used the time on the ball to great effect using incisive crisp and accurate passing to, primarily, keep possession, and then to pose a threat to the Millwall goal. United had the lions share of possession in both halves, and, once they'd gone a goal in front, it was more a case of "How many will they score?" as opposed to "Will they be able to score again.

Against a shockingly rough Millwall team, it was no surprise that the diamond in United's team shone. Cristiano Ronaldo was a superstar, using his pace, quick-feet and ball-trickery to mesmerise the Millwall team, and to dance elegantly past them with the ball at his feet. Ronaldo was all over the park, causing a constant problem for the Millwall defence. Of note, he once span through the hapless Millwall team like a hot knife through butter, and he crossed the ball perfectly using his right foot behind his left leg! Ronaldo was quite simply inspirational, and after the game I had the urge to get out on the local park and play like him! It surprised everyone when the England Manager Sven Goran Eriksson wrongly awarded Ruud wan Nistelrooy as the Man of the Match.

After waiting for a United goal for the almost all of the first half, it finally came. After minutes of United pressure, the ball was worked to the right flank, where Gary Neville crossed the ball into the packed box. Ronaldo timed his run to perfection, and arrived at the back post just in time to lurch in front of Dennis Wise, and head the ball into the back of the net, before running around in crazy celebration, his fist beating his bare chest.

A goal down, Millwall were as good as out of the game. They lacked any and all kinds of attacking play, and thoroughly deserved to lose simply because of their negative tactics. It said it all when, after twenty minutes of the first half, the Millwall player-manager resorted to ugly and foul tactics when the Referee wasn't looking. The United players didn't react they are far too professional to go along with the 37 year olds childish games. It worries me when he is a role model to not only his team, but to the millions of children who saw his dirty actions on the TV in 161 countries. The fewer Dennis Wises, the better. It would be best if there were none at all.

In the second half United scored a further two goals. The first was a converted Ruud van Nistelrooy penalty, which was given after a Millwall defenders over-zealous tackle from behind on Ryan Giggs (For which he strangely didn't get booked?). Ruud blasted the ball into the top left hand corner of the goal.

Ruud was the scorer of United's third goal too. Giggs again was the provider, but this time, instead of being hacked down, he managed to pass the ball along the six yard line to Ruud, who was more than happy to tap the ball home.

United gave a very professional performance, beating the lowly underdogs with style, skill and substance. Tim Howard had little to do for 80 minutes, and continued to have little to do for the final ten he'd been substituted to allow Roy Carroll the chance to play in a cup final.

Fittingly, United paid tribute to a member of the squad who died at the start of this season. United's Jimmy Davis dies in a car accident when he was on loan at Watford. The United players all wore shirts with "Davis, #36" on their backs as they picked up their medals, and the FA Cup.

United won a trophy, and rest assured that they will be back bigger, faster and better than ever before in a few months time. The season 2004/05 begins in late August.

Man Utd: Howard (Carroll 84), Gary Neville, Brown, Silvestre, O'Shea, Ronaldo (Solskjaer 84), Fletcher (Butt 84), Keane, Giggs, Scholes, van Nistelrooy.

Subs Not Used: Phil Neville, Djemba-Djemba.

Millwall: Marshall, Ryan (Cogan 74), Ward, Lawrence, Elliott, Sweeney, Livermore, Wise (Weston 89), Ifill, Cahill, Harris (McCammon 75).

Subs Not Used: Gueret, Dunne. Booked: Wise.

Attendance: 71,350 Referee: J Winter (Cleveland)