THE TEN BEST FINALS IN THE HISTORY OF THE FA CUP
The showdown in the final against Chelsea, who have won the cup eight times before, is the first of two back-to-back meetings between both the clubs, the latter turning out to be a mouth-watering clash in its own right in regard to the race for top four in the Premier League.
In the build-up to Saturday’s focus event, we, at FootTheBall, bring you a list of the 10 best FA Cup finals to have happened throughout the competition’s 150-year history.
Arsenal 3-2 Hull City – 2014
It is known love story between Arsenal and the FA Cup finals and a thrilling one happened in 2014 where Hull City were the opponents and stunned the Gunners at the Wembley as they went 2-0 up inside eight minutes through James Chester and Curtis Davies, who both capitalised on some poor defending from balls into the penalty area.
🗓 May 17, 2014: The FA Cup final
4 mins: Arsenal 0-1 Hull 😧
8 mins: Arsenal 0-2 Hull 😡
17 mins: Arsenal 1-2 Hull 👊
71 mins: Arsenal 2-2 Hull 💪
109 mins: Arsenal 3-2 Hull 😆🏆 pic.twitter.com/sVfcxjQoog
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 17, 2018
Arsenal, though, rallied and reduced the deficit through a superb 30-yard free-kick from Santi Cazorla. The equaliser eventually came in the 71st minute when defender Laurent Koscielny knocked the ball into the net from a corner.
In extra-time, France forward Olivier Giroud crashed a header against the crossbar before Ramsey completed a remarkable turnaround in the 109th minute and handed manager Arsene Wenger his first trophy since 2005.
Liverpool 3-3 West Ham United – 2006
Pitting against the previous year’s European champions, West Ham United were going to need a slight miracle to triumph over Liverpool in the final at the Millennium Stadium in 2006.
And for a while, it seemed as it was their day all alone. Blunders from Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina saw West Ham lead the game 2-0 before Liverpool levelled the game through Djibril Cisse and a stunning half-volley from Steven Gerrard.
The luck continued to favour the Hammers as looping Paul Konchesky cross in some way ended up in the Liverpool goal.
But, then Gerrard took the games into his own hands by blasting a thunderous shot into the bottom left corner, past a helpless Shaka Hislop, sending the game into extra time and then into penalties. Pepe Reina went on to redeem himself by saving three of the penalties, with Liverpool winning 3-1 in the shootout.
Crystal Palace 3-3 Manchester United – 1990
It could be said that this trophy win over Crystal Palace was the reason saved Sir Alex Ferguson’s job at Manchester United in that period of uncertainty during the late 1980s. The final then lived up to the expectation that the semi-finals built where the score lines were 4-3 and 5-4.
United were favourites but Palace portrayed a brilliant and assertive brand of football under former Red Devil Steve Coppell and took the advantage thanks to Gary O’Reilly.
Stalwarts Bryan Robson and Mark Hughes scored to put United into the lead but then Ian Wright came off the bench for the Eagles, scored to take it to extra-time and then netted again to give Palace the lead.
In the 109th minute, Hughes struck for the second time and the tie ended 3-3. As there were no penalties at that time, a replay was played where Manchester United beat Palace 1-0, but surely the first leg will go down as a classic.
Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United – 1979
One will struggle big time to discover a more sensational ending to a Cup final than in 1979 when three goals in the last four minutes transformed the tie on its head and then back again.
The Gunners appeared to be sailing to victory after goals from Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton sent them into a 2-0 lead before half-time.
⚽️ Talbot, 12'
⚽️ Stapleton, 43'
🔴⚽️ McQueen, 86'
🔴⚽️ McIlroy, 88'
⚽️ Sunderland, 89' pic.twitter.com/upJIM5HlzE
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) May 12, 2020
Things were quiet until the 85th minute but Gordon McQueen and Sammy McIlroy struck for the Red Devils twice in three minutes and were thought to have sent the tie into extra-time.
But that wasn’t the case at all for United, as just a minute later Alan Sunderland found the back of the net to restore Arsenal’s lead and win them the tie 3-2.
Blackpool 4-3 Bolton Wanderers – 1953
One of the most famous FA Cup Finals of all time, this seven-goal thriller that had it all – the only final to have featured a hat-trick, the first match watched live by queen Elizabeth II, a last-minute equaliser and an injury-time winner.
But all of this was because of one stellar performance of Blackpool’s Stanley Matthews. The famous winger instigated his team to come back from 3-1 down to win the game 4-3 and finally lift the trophy after being on the losing end twice in the previous five years.
Players of Blackpool lifting the trophy after defeating Bolton 4-3 in 1953 final. (Image Courtesy: BBC / Website)
After laying a perfect cross to Stan Mortensen for his second goal, Matthews was the one who won the freekick that Mortensen scored to complete his hattrick and set up an exciting finish.
With seconds remaining on the clock, Matthews blazed past the right-wing, as he had done so many times in his career, and provided the perfect cross for Bill Perry to score the winning goal with a low shot into the Bolton net. Blackpool finally lifted the trophy, and the catalyst was a boyhood fan.
Wigan Athletic 1-0 Manchester City – 2013
The final in 2013 was a real David v Goliath battle in the history of the competition as relegated Wigan Athletic faced billionaires Manchester City in the summit clash.
It was expected that the big names in City’s squad will obviously coast through the final, but what they saw was a spirited Wigan side who were not willing to go down easily and held firm throughout.
As the time on the clock went by, the underdogs grew in confidence and fears within the Citizens became visible. With the game poised to enter into extra-time, late substitute Ben Watson climbed highest from a corner to nod Wigan into the unlikeliest of leads in the 88th minute.
There was no time for City to respond and Goliath had been defeated. It was the sort of fairytale ending that keeps the magic of the cup alive.
Coventry City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur – 1987
As stated by BBC commentator John Motson as “the finest Cup Final I’ve had the pleasure of commentating on”, the five-goal thriller between the underdogs Coventry City and hot favourites Spurs was one for the ages.
From the first minute to the last, the match was played at a high tempo with plenty of exciting wing play and goalscoring opportunities as Tottenham twice took the lead with their skilful team of international footballers.
Coventry City could not boast about having a line-up with as much talent but the spirited performance that they provided in their first-ever domestic Cup Final brought them back to level terms twice.
When a Gary Mabbutt own goal handed Coventry the lead just minutes into the extra-time period, City kept their stamina to stay in front all the way to the final whistle whilst Waddle, Hoddle, Ardiles and the rest of the Spurs superstars lost their impetus.
Coventry captain Brian Kilcline lifted the cup to loud cheers from his club’s fans as they celebrated one of the great shocks to have occurred in FA Cup history.
Sunderland 1-0 Leeds United – 1973
Bob Stokoe’s Division Two Sunderland stunned holders Leeds United in what was one of the biggest FA Cup final shocks as goalkeeper Jim Montgomery emerged as the unlikely hero. Sunderland took the lead through a first-half goal from Ian Porterfield after Leeds failed to clear a corner.
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) March 21, 2019
Midway through the second half, Montgomery palmed away a close-range header from Leeds defender Trevor Cherry. The ball fell to Peter Lorimer, whose fierce shot was pushed onto the underside of the crossbar before Dick Malone hacked it clear.
At the final whistle, Stokoe ran half the length of Wembley to hug his goalkeeper as Sunderland celebrated a memorable victory.
Wimbledon 1-0 Liverpool – 1988
Another of those David vs Goliath storylines, Wimbledon had worked their way up from the Southern League to the First Division with a no-nonsense approach and team spirit, but, as usual, were given little hope in the FA Cup finals against a Liverpool side that was expected to seal the double.
Wimbledon players celebrating after defeating Liverpool 1-0 in 1988 final. (Image Courtesy: BBC / Website)
To the surprise of many, in the 37th minute, Lawrie Sanchez headed home a Dennis Wise free-kick to give the Dons a 1-0 lead. Although Liverpool had the chance to equalise in after halftime, John Aldridge saw his penalty pushed away by Dave Beasant, who became the first goalkeeper to save a spot-kick in an FA Cup final at Wembley.
As the full-time whistle blew and Wimbledon celebrated the most unlikely of victories, BBC commentator John Motson declared: “The Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club.”
Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 Manchester City – 1981
One of the greatest finals saw one of the greatest goals ever scored in Wembley history as Tottenham went on to lift the FA Cup in 1981. With the first contest between them and Manchester City ending up 1-1 both teams went to a replay which saw Spurs take the lead, only for City to score twice to claim it for themselves.
With 20 minutes to go, Garth Crooks levelled things up for Tottenham and then the magic happened. Ricardo Villa had it all to do when he picked up the ball, but he beat four City players and slotted home past Joe Corrigan to score one of Wembley’s greatest ever goals and win the game 3-2 for his side.