Nottingham Forest F.C. 1–8 Manchester United F.C.
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The City Ground, the venue of the match
|Event||1998–99 FA Premier League|
|Date||6 February 1999|
|Venue||City Ground, Nottingham|
|Referee||Paul Alcock (Kent)|
The 1998–99 season match between Nottingham Forest and Manchester United at the City Ground took place on 6 February 1999. Manchester United won the match 8–1, thereby recording the largest away win in the history of the Premier League. Substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjær scored four of Manchester United's eight goals, setting a record for the most goals scored by a substitute in one match. This is also one of the rare occurrences when United played a football match on the anniversary date of the Munich air disaster.
Manchester United began the month of February on top of the Premier League by one point after beating Charlton Athletic 1–0 away, while then-league leaders Chelsea lost away to Arsenal by the same margin. Another 1–0 win over Derby County in mid-week extended United's lead to four points going into the weekend of 6 February 1999.
Despite a 1–0 win away to Everton on 30 January – their first win since August 1998 – Nottingham Forest went into the weekend rooted to the bottom of the table, with just three wins to their name all season and only 16 points, 31 behind their opponents. Ron Atkinson had replaced Dave Bassett as Forest manager the previous month, and the United clash was to be his third match at the Forest helm.
Before the match, the two teams had met 104 times in competitive matches, with Manchester United winning 47 and Nottingham Forest winning 33. The two teams had a similar record in the league, with Manchester United leading 43–29 in terms of wins. They also met in the 1992 Football League Cup Final, which Manchester United won 1–0 via a Brian McClair goal. Nottingham Forest's biggest home win against Manchester United came on 2 May 1990, when they won 4–0 in front of 21,186 fans at the City Ground, while Manchester United's biggest win at Nottingham Forest was a 5–1 victory on 12 December 1959 in front of 31,666 spectators.
Dwight Yorke opened the scoring for Manchester United in the second minute, turning home Paul Scholes' right-wing cross after David Beckham's corner from the left had evaded everyone in the penalty area. Alan Rogers equalised five minutes later after good interplay with Jean-Claude Darcheville, only for Andy Cole to restore United's lead less than a minute later; the English forward was put through by a long ball from the back by Jaap Stam, before rounding Forest goalkeeper Dave Beasant to hit a shot from a narrow angle that defender Jon Olav Hjelde was unable to keep out.
Shambolic defending in the second half allowed Cole and Yorke to add one more each, before Yorke was replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjær up front in the 72nd minute. With 10 minutes left on the clock, David Beckham spotted an overlapping right-wing run from Gary Neville, and the England full-back played the ball across the face of the goal area. The ball came to Solskjær on the far side of the goal, where he was able to side-foot home from two yards. Solskjær got his second in the 88th minute after he beat the offside trap to be played in by Beckham. As Beasant advanced to narrow the angle, Solskjær's attempted chip was stopped by the Forest 'keeper. However, the ball broke back to Solskjær, who took the ball round Beasant before hitting the ball into the top-right corner of the goal from the right side of the penalty area. As the game entered its closing stages, Paul Scholes played a one-two with Jesper Blomqvist and then hit a no-look pass to Solskjær. The Norwegian forward took one touch with his left foot to control the ball and then hit a right-footed volley past Beasant for his hat-trick. Solskjær's fourth goal – and United's eighth – came in injury time at the end of the second half; Nicky Butt broke into the Nottingham Forest penalty area and played the ball back across the goal to Paul Scholes. Scholes mis-cued his shot, but the ball came to Solskjær, who side-footed it past the onrushing Beasant.
Solskjær later claimed that he had not expected to come on once United went 4–1 up. Nevertheless, United manager Alex Ferguson told the Norwegian to warm up so that he could come on in place of Yorke. As Solskjær was about to come on, United first team coach Jimmy Ryan advised him to play conservatively and pass the ball around, advice of which Solskjær took little heed.
Only ten shots in the match were on target by either team - nine of these were goals. This is a record in the Premier League for highest shots on target to goals ratio (90%).
6 February 1999
|Nottingham Forest||1–8||Manchester United|
|Rogers 6'||Report||Yorke 2', 67'
Cole 7', 50'
Solskjær 80', 88', 90', 90'
|Nottingham Forest||Manchester United|
|Shots on target||2||8|
|Shots off target||4||4|
- "Man United 9-0 Ipswich, Newcastle 8-0 Sheff Weds and Spurs 9-1 Wigan: Top 10 Premier League goal-fests". MirrorFootball.co.uk. Trinity Mirror. 29 August 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- "English Premier League 1998-1999 : Table on 31.01.1999". statto.com. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- "English Premier League 1998-1999 : Table on 03.02.1999". statto.com. Statto Organisation. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- "On this day in history ~ Premier League, 1999". wsc.co.uk. When Saturday Comes. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- Endlar, Andrew. "United versus Nottingham Forest". StretfordEnd.co.uk. Retrieved 1 August 2009.
- Match programme, p. 56