Manchester U 2 West Ham 0

Eric Cantona

Man­chester Uni­ted 2 West Ham Uni­ted 0, Old Traf­ford, Eng­lish Pre­mier Lea­gue, May 11, 1997. Al­ready crow­ned Pre­mier Lea­gue Cham­pi­on Man­chester Uni­ted com­fort­ably de­feated West Ham Uni­ted 2-0 at ho­me in what was Eric Cantona´s fi­nal fir­st te­am ap­pear­ance for the Old Traf­ford club. Ole Gun­nar Solk­s­jaer gave Uni­ted an early lead in the el­ev­enth min­ute be­fore Jordi Cruy­ff ad­ded a sec­ond goal wi­th six min­utes re­maining of nor­mal time.

The double win­ners of 1996 had star­ted the 1996-97 sea­son on an ex­cel­lent note wi­th a com­pre­hens­ive 4-0 FA Char­ity Shield vic­tory over FA Carling Pre­miership run­ners-up New­castle Uni­ted at Wemb­ley Sta­dium cour­tesy of a goal each from Eric Can­tona, Nicky Butt, Da­vid Beck­ham, and Roy Ke­ane. Man­chester Uni­ted con­tin­ued their good early form by kick­ing off their Pre­mier Lea­gue cam­paign wi­th a com­fort­able 3-0 tri­umph ag­ainst Joe Kinnear´s Wim­bledon at their ad­op­ted Sel­hurst Park be­fore draw­ing three fix­tures in a row wi­th Ever­ton, Black­burn Rov­ers, and Der­by Coun­ty. The Old Traf­ford­i­ans lost their fir­st Pre­miership mat­ch of the term to joint pace­set­ters New­castle Uni­ted at the St Ja­mes´ Park in their tenth fix­ture, and they also lost their next two ga­mes to South­ampton at The Dell and Chel­sea at Stam­ford Bridge. Then fol­lowed an im­press­ive un­beaten run of six­teen top-flight mat­ches be­fore suf­fer­ing a sur­prise 2-1 loss to re­leg­a­tion can­did­ates Sun­der­land at Roker Park, but when fel­low cham­pi­on­ship chasers Liver­pool lost their pen­ul­tim­ate ga­me 2-1 to un­fan­cied Wim­bledon at Sel­hurst Park, The An­field­ers han­ded the title to The Man­chester Reds.

Man­chester Uni­ted wound down the sea­son wi­th a 2-0 win ag­ainst West Ham Uni­ted in front of a 55,000 crowd at Old Traf­ford. Ole Gun­nar Sol­skjaer opened the scor­ing ac­count for The Red Dev­ils ag­ainst The Ham­mers wi­th a clo­se ran­ge head­er in the el­ev­enth min­ute of the clash af­ter a fe­ro­cious long-dis­tance shot from trig­ger happy mid­fielder Paul Scho­les had hit the cross­bar. For­mer Eng­land U21 in­ter­na­tion­al Paul Kit­son came clo­se to equal­ising for the East Lon­doners af­ter 71 min­utes of ac­tion, but the stri­ker was denied by Man­chester Uni­ted shot stop­per Pe­ter Schmei­chel. The new­ly crow­ned cham­pi­ons ul­ti­mately doubled their ad­vant­age in the 84th min­ute of the tie as Eric Can­tona played a mag­ni­fi­cent long ball to sec­ond ha­lf sub­sti­tute Jordi Cruy­ff who vol­leyed his ef­fort pa­st West Ham and Czech Re­pub­lic net­mind­er Ludek Mik­losko and in­to the top left cor­ner of the goal. And, shortly af­ter the fi­nal whistle, Can­tona lif­ted the Pre­mier Lea­gue trophy for the fourth and last time in his ex­traordin­ary foot­ball ca­reer. Man­chester Uni­ted Te­am: Pe­ter Schmei­chel, Ronny John­sen, Da­vid May, De­nis Ir­win, Phil Ne­ville, Da­vid Beck­ham, Nicky Butt, Karel Pobor­sky, Paul Scho­les, Eric Can­tona, Ole Gun­nar Sol­skjaer. Sub­stitutes: Mi­chael Clegg, Jordi Cruy­ff, Bri­an Mc­Clair. West Ham Uni­ted Te­am: Ludek Mik­losko, Ste­ve Potts, Slaven Bil­ic, Rio Fer­dinand, Rich­ard Hall, Stan Laz­ar­id­is, Ste­ve Lo­mas, John Mon­cur, Hugo Por­firio, Iain Dow­ie, Paul Kit­son. Sub­stitutes: Mi­chael Hug­hes, Les Sealey.

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