2 Newcastle United
Sheringham 11, Scholes 53
"The warm-up Final"
Manchester United added the FA Cup crown to the Premiership title won six days earlier, strolling past Newcastle at Wembley in the perfect warm up for the European Cup Final. A new-record, tenth such triumph at the Twin Towers, means United were also the first English side to secure a 'treble' of Doubles - all achieved in five fantastic years under manager Alex Ferguson - confirmed an FA Cup history-maker himself with this fourth personal success. After winning this United jetted to Barcelona, on Concorde, in a bid to land another unprecedented feat - the League, FA Cup and European Cup Treble.
The first eight minutes of the game were eventful, a blazing effort from Newcastle's Peruvian Nolberto Solano; a booking for their German midfielder Dietmar Hamman; an injury to Manchester United skipper Roy Keane and, as a consequence, the arrival of Teddy Sheringham off the bench.
United manager Alex Ferguson was hailed throughout the remarkable treble-chasing campaign for rather useful team changes at just the right time, but even he could not take credit for throwing on Sheringham quite so early. Indeed, losing influential Keane, described by the boss as the side's 'heartbeat', following a very late, aggressive lunge from Gary Speed, must have been quite the last thing he either wanted or envisaged.
Just 96 seconds later, Fergie must have felt blessed as United went ahead. And blow me down -if it wasn't Sheringham, aided by the fine approach of Andy Cole and Paul Scholes, who was responsible for the 10th-minute breakthrough.
Cole - partnered by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rather than regular Dwight Yorke, who was left on the bench - did well fending of three desperate challenges to find Sheringham. A quick pass to Scholes, and the super sub was off, unmarked, into the Newcastle box, where he collected a perfectly-weighted first-time return before rifling in a low drive under Steve Harper.
Pandemonium broke out amid the ecstatic Manchester supporters while, for the first time since the crack of dawn, the black and white masses went silent in the capital. United twice went close to adding a second in the 33rd and 34th minutes. Firstly, Solskjaer, who must have still been in a state of shock at receiving his call into the starting line-up ahead of Trinidad and Tobago striker Yorke, the country's leading scorer on 29 goals, failed to connect properly with a near-post header from Phil Neville's centre.
And then, Cole, who has made a habit of banging them in against his old club, was sent clear by an exchange of headers between Beckham and Sheringham. But his hooked lob over Steve Harper did not have sufficient pace to win the race to the goalline with Greek defender Nikos Dabizas. It was not all one-way traffic, as Hamman reminded the 79,000-odd crowd, and the Great Dane Peter Schmeichel, with a strong goalbound drive which the Manchester keeper, making his penultimate appearance for the side, only just diverted from hitting the back of his net.
Yet, it was still Manchester making the majority of the running, Beckham dropping into the centre of midfield, Solskjaer operating mainly on the right flank and Sheringham roaming down the middle. The ex-Tottenham man nearly grabbed his second towards the end of the half when Beckham's cross found him unmarked in the six yard area. His powerful header, though, flew inches wide.
At the break, Newcastle boss Ruud Gullit, the man with a most-unenviable record against Fergie's team, clearly saw the game was running away from his grasp fast. Hence, the desperate throw of the die in bringing on the towering Ferguson - even, though, the Scottish striker was nowhere near fully fit.
United have lifted the FA Cup three times in this decade alone, and eight minutes into the second period they took a huge step to landing a fourth. Once more, Sheringham, abused by supporters up and down the land last season - including many from Old Trafford, who even went as far as naming him among their all-time worst United XI - was at the centre of the havoc created in the Geordies area. His quick thinking released the ever-dangerous Scholes who, at the same end he scored a hat-trick for England last month, calmly drove home United's second of the afternoon.
The contest was not quite dead and buried, Georgian international Temuri Ketsbaia emphasising the fact with an effort that deserved better than to thump against the foot of the stranded Schmeichel's post. Shades of 12 months ago here, when Newcastle skipper Alan Shearer, very quiet this time around under the attentions of Ronny Johnsen, hit an upright during Newcastle's 2-0 defeat by Double-winners Arsenal. There were now only 25 minutes standing between them and similar misery at the mecca of football.
Yorke and Stam were given a run out on the Wembley turf, so too Silvio Maric, becoming the first Croat to appear in the end-of-season showpiece.Maric, the attacking winger signed from Croatia Zagreb three months ago, could have imprinted his name forever in the record books 15 minutes from time - and dragged Gullit's fast-fading Newcastle right back into contention. Loitering on the edge of the area, he suddenly found himself with a perfectly clear view of Schmeichel's goal following a missed header by Dutchman Stam. How on earth he did not, at the very least, hit his target - he was no more than 12 yards out - is anybody's guess. But miss he did, a side-footed shot drifting harmlessly away.
Moments earlier, Sheringham had gone even closer, floating a delicate chip onto Harper's crossbar, after Yorke and Beckham combined to create the opportunity.In truth, had Maric scored, it would still probably have been too little too late - even if there was time for the ame player to again fire wide, albeit from a far tougher angle.
It was not to be for Newcastle. And when the final whistle went, Fergie and his all-conquering Reds began their increasingly-familiar victory party, accompanied to the booming chants of "And now you're gonna believe us, we're gonna win the lot" from their fans. Two down, one to go for the once-deemed 'impossible' quest. On this evidence, few would have bet against them landing the Treble at the Nou camp, in the Champions League final with Bayern Munich.