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The 2004 FA Cup Final took place on 22 May 2004 and was the fourth to be played at Cardiff's Millennium Stadiummarker. It was contested between Manchester United who had finished 3rd in the Premier League that season and Millwall who had finished 10th in Division One. The 27 league places separating the two teams was evident as Manchester United secured their eleventh FA Cup victory with a headed goal from Cristiano Ronaldo and a brace from Ruud van Nistelrooy, including a penalty.

At the trophy presentation all the Manchester United players wore shirts saying "Davis 36" after the death of young midfielder Jimmy Davis who died in car crash on his way to a Watford match, who he had joined on loan.

The match took place for the fourth consecutive year at the Millennium Stadium, due to the ongoing reconstruction of Wembley Stadiummarker, the final's usual venue. The match was refereed by Jeff Winter and he was aided by assistant referees Roger Green, Tony East and fourth official Matt Messias.

United's win saw them claim the FA Cup for a record eleventh time.

In contrast, it was Millwall's first appearance in an FA Cup final or indeed any of the two major cup finals.


Manchester United were appearing in their 16th FA Cup Final and had won the FA Cup on eleven of their previous fifteen appearances. Two of these victories had yielded a League / FA Cup "double" (in 1994 and 1996) and in 1999 they had won the FA Cup 1998-99 as part of a unique Treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League. For Millwall it was their first ever appearance in an FA Cup Final, however they had reached the semi-finals on three separate occasions (1900, 1903 and 1937). Their appearance in the 1937 semi final was notable as Millwall were the first team in the old Division 3 to reach the last four. They also became only the second team from outside the top flight of English football to reach the final since 1982, and the first team from outside the Premier League since its foundation in 1992, before Cardiff City became the second in 2008.


Team news

Manchester United started with the eleven that they had relied on for most of the season, with Tim Howard playing in goal, a back four of Gary Neville, Brown, Silvestre and O'Shea; Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs giving the width as wide men in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Roy Keane and Darren Fletcher sitting in central midfield and Ruud van Nistelrooy supported by Paul Scholes. Roy Carroll would later become only the second goalkeeper to be brought on as a substitute in an FA Cup final.

Millwall, seriously weakened by injuries and suspensions to key players such as Kevin Muscat and Daniele Dichio had to employ an unfamiliar 4-5-1 formation which included player-manager Dennis Wise playing in midfield for the last time before retiring. It came 16 years after his first FA Cup Final with Wimbledon F.C. in 1988. It also turned out to be the last competitive game in a Millwall shirt for Australian midfielder Tim Cahill, who would move to Everton during the summer. Despite being injured and unable to keep goal for Millwall in the Final, Millwall manager Dennis Wise insisted that Tony Warner, the club's first-choice goalkeeper, be presented with a runners-up medal because if he had been fit he would have played in the final.

Curtis Weston beat the 125-year record held by James F. M. Prinsep of Clapham Rovers after coming on as a 89th minute substitute replacing Dennis Wise. Weston holds the record of being the youngest ever player to appear in an FA Cup Final. Weston's age was 17 years 119 days, beating Prinsep's age of 17 years and 245 days by 126 days.

Match summary

Millwall's game plan was to get men behind the ball, defending deep and attempt to hit Manchester United on the break, but they were unable to attempt this very often during the game as United dominated most of the proceedings. United's early chances fell to Paul Scholes, who had long range efforts at goal. One shot fizzed just wide, while another was tipped away by the Lions' goalkeeper, Andy Marshall. Scholes was presented with an opportunity on the six-yard line when a rabona cross from Cristiano Ronaldo found him unmarked. The midfielder seemed as surprised by the cross as everyone else and completely missed the ball with his attempted hooked shot.

Millwall's only chance of the first 45 minutes came when Paul Ifill broke down the right hand side of the pitch and arrowed in towards the penalty area, only to have his shot blocked. They looked to have survived the first half with the scoresheet intact until a decisive moment on 44 minutes. Roy Keane played in Gary Neville as he moved into the penalty area, and the right back chipped a cross back across the box. Millwall player-manager Dennis Wise waited for the ball to arrive, but in doing so, he allowed Ronaldo to steal in and plant a firm header past Marshall. 1–0 to United.

The second half began the same way the first had, with Manchester United passing the ball around freely, seemingly enjoying the occasion. They went 2–0 up when Ryan Giggs went on a run into the Millwall box. He was challenged by David Livermore and fell to the ground. Referee Jeff Winter pointed straight to the spot, although subsequent television replays suggested that Livermore got the ball before tripping Giggs. Ruud van Nistelrooy scored from the penalty spot with a high, hard shot into the top corner to the goalkeeper's right, giving Marshall no chance. United were now in cruise control and Millwall could not find a way back into the match. United's defence kept Neil Harris and Tim Cahill quiet and eventually went 3–0 up when Giggs went on a run down the left hand side, and crossed for Van Nistelrooy to tap in from three yards out, although subsequent television replays showed it was clearly offside.

Millwall had a chance near the end, when substitute Mark McCammon almost found a way through the Red Devils' defence, and Scholes had another late effort for United, before Curtis Weston replaced Wise for his record-breaking appearance.

Roy Keane held aloft the trophy, as Manchester United claimed their 11th victory in the tournament, and their first since 1999.

Match details

GK 14 Tim Howard
RB 2 Gary Neville
CB 6 Wes Brown
CB 27 Mikaël Silvestre
LB 22 John O'Shea
RM 7 Cristiano Ronaldo
CM 24 Darren Fletcher
CM 16 Roy Keane (c)
LM 11 Ryan Giggs
SS 18 Paul Scholes
CF 10 Ruud van Nistelrooy
GK 13 Roy Carroll
DF 3 Phil Neville
MF 8 Nicky Butt
MF 19 Eric Djemba-Djemba
FW 20 Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Alex Ferguson
GK 33 Andy Marshall
RB 25 Marvin Elliott
CB 2 Matthew Lawrence (c)
CB 12 Darren Ward
LB 3 Robbie Ryan
DM 19 Dennis Wise
DM 8 David Livermore
RM 7 Paul Ifill
LM 26 Peter Sweeney
AM 4 Tim Cahill
CF 9 Neil Harris
GK 13 Willy Guéret
DF 27 Alan Dunne
MF 37 Barry Cogan
MF 11 Curtis Weston
FW 23 Mark McCammon
Dennis Wise
  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of extra-time if necessary.
  • Penalty shootout if scores still level.
  • Five named substitutes
  • Maximum of 3 substitutions.

Road to Cardiff

Manchester United

Home teams listed first.

Round 3: Aston Villa 1–2 Manchester United

Round 4: Northampton Town 0–3 Manchester United

Round 5: Manchester United 4–2 Manchester City

Round 6: Manchester United 2–1 Fulham

Semi-final: Arsenal 0–1 Manchester United
:(at Villa Parkmarker)


Home teams listed first.

Round 3: Millwall 2–1 Walsall

Round 4: Telford United 0–2 Millwall

Round 5: Millwall 1–0 Burnley

Round 6: Millwall 0–0 Tranmere Rovers
Replay:Tranmere Rovers 1–2 Millwall

Semi-final: Sunderland 0–1 Millwall
:(at Old Traffordmarker)


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