Bad boy makes good: Cantona clinches FA Cup

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Eric Cantona's progress from kung-fu-kicking villain to all- conquering hero was completed yesterday at Wembley when his goal won the FA Cup for Manchester United, write Dan Fearon and Graham Ball.

United thus became the first side to win the league and cup double twice - the Premiership title was secured at Middlesbrough last Sunday. It was also a record ninth FA Cup victory.

What had been expected to be one of the more exciting finals turned out to be disappointingly mediocre, with United dominating the first half and Liverpool edging the second until Cantona volleyed a mispunched clearance from the Liverpool goalkeeper, David James, through a crowd of players into the net.

Yesterday Cantona said that he would spend the rest of his life in England, something that seemed unlikely 16 months ago when he leapt into the crowd to attack a fan who was abusing him, an act which saw him banned for eight months.

Yesterday he demonstrated how much he had changed when, as he walked up to collect the trophy, he was spat upon by opposing supporters. Cantona responded with an icy stare.

United's manager, Alex Ferguson, was also involved in an incident as his team made their way past rival supporters to collect the cup. Someone in the crowd threw a punch at him and as the post match celebrations started the FA announced that it was launching a review of security at Wembley.

Graham Kelly, Football Association chief executive said: "It is totally unacceptable. I am very concerned about the situation."

Ferguson, however, laughed the matter off. Clutching a glass of champagne he joked with reporters: "If someone had a swing at me he obviously doesn't know how good I am at fighting."

Bookmakers immediately installed Manchester United at an ungenerous 14- 1 to do the FA Cup/Premiership double again.

Match reports, page 32

Soccer songs, page 7