PREVIEW: Man United and Crystal Palace reunite in FA Cup Final after 26 years

The meeting in 1990 required a replay to separate the sides

PREVIEW: Man United and Crystal Palace reunite in FA Cup Final after 26 years

Peter Robinson / EMPICS Sport

Manchester United and Crystal Palace will meet in Wembley later this evening to battle it out for the last remaining piece of silverware of the season.

26 years ago, the FA Cup final went to a 3-3 draw on the first day which forced a replay that United ultimately won on a 1-0 scoreline. 

Writing in The Guardian today, Richard Foster captures the contrasting emotions between the excitement of the first day and the flat tempo of the replay.

"The sense of being centre-stage was unusual for Palace and provided a taste of what we had been missing all these years. Rather than being ridiculed, or worse ignored, we felt a sense of importance. We were at the apex of the game and that overriding feeling of having arrived would be the lasting legacy despite a series of relegations, financial meltdowns and narrow escapes in subsequent years."

"The final did not disappoint as that man (Gary) O’Reilly made his presence felt just once more with a header that looped over a flailing Jim Leighton and past a despairing Steve Bruce. Surely O’Reilly must be the only player to have scored for his club in both FA Cup semi-final and final and in no other matches. But United scored either side of half-time through Bryan Robson and Mark Hughes, giving Coppell the cue to take a gamble on Ian Wright. "

Wright nudged Crystal Palace in front but United's cause was rescued by Mark Hughes to ensure the game ended in a draw and Foster concedes that their opportunity had passed them by.

"It was disappointing to have been so close but it was not half as disappointing as the replay, which was a dour, physical battle decided by a solitary Lee Martin goal. And those yellow and black stripes did not suit us at all."

"While it was a tame way for this FA Cup adventure to peter out, it could not detract from those two thrilling matches that put Crystal Palace on the map."

United's last FA Cup victory stretches back to 2004 when a blossoming Cristiano Ronaldo and a goal poaching Ruud Van Nistelrooy outmatched a plucky Millwall to cruise to a 3-0 victory. FA Cup final defeats in 2005 and 2007 followed and given the unsteady climate currently engulfing the stands of Old Trafford, some silverware is desperately needed to replenish the staleness there.

Conversely, today marks just the second time that Crystal Palace have qualified for the FA Cup final since that appearance against United in 1990. Reports say that Wilfried Zaha is expected to be fit, after missing the last three games through injury, while Bakary Sako has also been passed fit for Palace.

The Manchester side go into the game with some notable absentees, including Bastian Schweinsteiger and Memphis Depay. But with a cabinet stacked with 11 FA Cup titles already, and having previously defeated Palace back in April, a second FA Cup final draw between these sides looks unlikely.

Kick-off this evening is 5.30pm and you can get score updates on Newstalk Sport and Off The Ball