Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cantona's Late Goal Nets FA Cup for United

WEMBLEY, England -- Eric Cantona scored Manchester United's winner five minutes from the end in a 1-0 FA Cup final victory over Liverpool on Saturday and then collected the famous trophy as United's captain.


The Frenchman, the first overseas player to captain an FA Cup final team, fired a hip-high shot through a crowded penalty area after Liverpool goalkeeper David James had punched out a corner from David Beckham.


The goal created history as United became a record ninth winner of the title and also the first team to complete the league and cup double on two occasions.


It also completed a amazing season for the Frenchman. Cantona spent the first three months under suspension after his kung-fu style attack on a Crystal Palace fan last season -- and capped his comeback on Thursday when he was named Footballer of the Year by British soccer writers.


Cantona, who scored on his return to the game against Liverpool in October, went on to score 17 more, wound up the team's top scorer and helped Alex Ferguson's team make up Newcastle's 12-point standings lead on the way to its third league title in four years.


"That's life," Cantona said just before walking up to collect the cup from the Duchess of Kent, "It's up and down."


But there was another down for Cantona as he went up to collect the trophy. A Liverpool fan appeared to spit at him as he climbed the steps and the Frenchman wiped his head before he reached the royal box.


"It's totally unacceptable," said Graham Kelly, chief executive of the Football Association, who also said that another Liverpool supporter appeared to try to punch United manager Alex Ferguson.


Ferguson dismissed the incidents.


But he admitted he was amazed that his team had scored a double triumph again. "It is absolutely fantastic to win the double twice in three seasons and perhaps it was a bit beyond my expectations,'' Ferguson said.


Cantona was named captain because center back Steve Bruce, who usually leads the team, was left out. The Frenchman also was captain when Bruce was injured midway through the season.


Cantona's late strike was the only goal of a disappointing final which had promised much but delivered little. A noisy Wembley crowd of 79,007 saw a game littered with errors and few goal chances even though James had to make two good saves to keep out shots from Beckham and Cantona.


Andy Cole had an early chance to fire United ahead in the third minute from Cantona's header into his path. But the striker completely miscued his shot from 15 meters and the ball rolled slowly well wide of the post.


It was that sort of game with mistakes all over the field and it never lived up to its promise. Two minutes after Cole's blunder, James had to make an acrobatic diving save, plunging to his right to turn a well-struck 20-meter shot from Beckham round the post.


When a United move broke down on the edge of the Liverpool penalty area, a slick move almost brought a goal for Stan Collymore in the 13th minute. He broke down the right and powered an angled shot that United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel fisted around the near post.


Apart from two Collymore shots that were far too high and another from Jamie Redknapp that also cleared the United crossbar, there were few other goal attempts in the first half.


But Cantona brought the best out of James five minutes into the second.


With the Liverpool defense under pressure, the Frenchman produced a first-time shot while on the ground but the agile goalkeeper made an instinctive one-handed save at the foot of the post. James then forced out a follow up effort by Cole, who later was replaced by Paul Scholes after another shaky performance in front of goal.


With the game heading for a goalless stalemate and a replay, Liverpool sent on veteran striker Ian Rush 16 minutes from the end for his last appearance in place of Collymore. But the former Juventus striker made little impact and rarely had the ball.


The goal came when Liverpool defender Phil Babb needlessly gave away a corner with James coming off his line to collect a loose United pass.


Beckeham swung the ball to the near post, James rushed off his line to punch and the ball went straight to Cantona. There were four defenders between the Frenchman and the net but he managed to fire his shot through all of them for the winner.