Goal.com has compiled a list of the most entertaining showpieces in the competition’s 141-year history, from white horses to saved penalties and 90th-minute winners
Manchester City and Wigan will contest the 132nd FA Cup final on Saturday, with the Blues still reeling from the loss of their Premier League crown and Roberto Martinez & Co. staring possible relegation in the face.
Over the years, the FA Cup final – the game’s longest-running cup competition – has featured the likes of hat-tricks, last-minute winners, own goals and upsets.
Will the weekend clash between City and Wigan serve up another treat? It has plenty of competition, and Goal.com has compiled the 10 most entertaining showpieces in the competition’s 141-year history.
|10. West Ham v Preston (1964)
Underdogs Preston took the lead with just 10 minutes on the clock when Doug Holden pounced on a weak parry from Hammers goalkeeper Jim Standen. The lead lasted less than two minutes, though, as John Sissons played a one-two with Johnny Byrne before finding the back of the net from a tight angle.
But still the London side struggled to contain their northern opponents, and again went behind five minutes before half-time through Alex Dawson’s header.
Geoff Hurst restored parity seven minutes after the break, heading in via a combination of the crossbar and Preston goalkeeper Alan Kelly’s back from a Ken Brown cross.
The remainder of the match was a tense affair but, as the game entered stoppage time, Ronnie Boyce was on hand to give West Ham a 3-2 victory and, with it, their first-ever FA Cup.
|9. Liverpool v Everton (1989)
John Aldridge gave Liverpool a fourth-minute lead and a nervy affair remained that way until the last minute of regulation time when Stuart McCall netted an equaliser for Everton, prompting a pitch invasion from the Toffees support. The final whistle blew immediately afterwards and extra time beckoned.
Ian Rush restored Liverpool’s one-goal advantage just five minutes after the restart, only for Everton to again peg their rivals back through McCall, the substitute volleying home from inside the penalty area to become the first substitute to score twice in an FA Cup final.
But, this time, Liverpool were not to be stopped as Rush grabbed his second less than two minutes later when he headed home a John Barnes cross to immediately match McCall’s record and seal a dramatic 3-2 victory.
|8. Bolton v West Ham (1923)
The defining image of the game was one sole policeman on a white horse attempting to organise the heaving crowds, with kick-off delayed by 45 minutes.
The game itself was not the most enthralling affair, with Bolton taking a second-minute lead before holding off a resolute Hammers side to net a second in the 53rd minute and wrap up a 2-0 win.
Events before and after the game would live long in the memory, with safety measures being introduced as a result of the crowd trouble after thousands of fans stood watching the game just metres from the edge of the pitch.
After the game, West Ham coach Charlie Paynter blamed the mounted police from ruining the state of the pitch, claiming: “It was that white horse thumping its big feet into the pitch that made it hopeless. Our wingers were tumbling all over the place, tripping up in great ruts and holes.”
|7. Liverpool v Wimbledon (1988)
This FA Cup final served up one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history, with England’s dominant force in football, Liverpool, being pipped 1-0 by underdogs Wimbledon.
Nicknamed ‘The Crazy Gang’ due to players and backroom staff playing practical jokes on each other, not many took the team seriously. Liverpool, on the other hand, were the newly crowned First Division champions – their sixth of the decade – and were looking to become the first club to win the domestic double after achieving the feat in 1985-86.
However, Laurie Sanchez gave Wimbledon a first-half lead when he latched on to a Dennis Wise free kick to head home. Peter Beardsley then had a goal disallowed before Liverpool were awarded a penalty with half an hour left to play – although replays showed the deemed foul by Clive Goodyear was a fair challenge.
John Aldridge stepped up but saw his penalty saved by Dave Beasant – the first failed spot kick in FA Cup final history – and Wimbledon held on to claim their only ever triumph in the competition, with Beasant becoming the first goalkeeper to captain a winning side.
|6. Coventry v Tottenham (1987)
Another year and another shock in the FA Cup showpiece, as heavily fancied Tottenham were downed by Coventry City.
Spurs had already won the competition twice that decade and after conceding just three goals on their way to the final, and finishing third in the league, many expected them to dispatch John Sillett’s side.
Clive Allen gave the London side a second-minute lead, only for Dave Bennett to equalise for Coventry just six minutes later.
Tottenham were not worried, though, and largely dominated the remainder of the first half, regaining the advantage when legendary midfielder Gary Mabbutt slotted home five minutes before the break.
The second half was a completely different story, though, and Keith Houchen’s goal-of-the-season diving header saw the Sky Blues again draw level.
And that is how the scores remained, sending the match to extra time. Coventry were still edging the tie and went ahead for the first time in the game just five minutes after the restart when Lloyd McGrath’s cutback deflected off Mabbutt’s knee to tie up a 3-2 win for the Midlands club.
|5. Tottenham v Manchester City (1981)
The 100th FA Cup final is thought by many to include two of the greatest goals in the competition’s history, with Steve MacKenzie hitting a long-range piledriver before Ricky Villa avoided the attentions of up to five Manchester City players inside the penalty area to notch the winner.
After a tame 1-1 draw five days earlier in the original final, in which Villa was substituted following a below-par performance, the Argentine wasted no time in making amends by putting Tottenham ahead in the eighth minute of the replay. City hit back straight away, though, and in spectacular fashion as MacKenzie’s volley from fully 30 yards whistled into the top corner.
City came out after half-time with far more vigour than Spurs and took the lead from the spot on 50 minutes. Tottenham huffed and puffed and slowly broke down a resilient Blues defence through Garth Crook’s untidy effort with 20 minutes remaining.
Then Villa stepped forward again, picking the ball up 25 yards out and embarking on a mazy run, twisting and turning through the City defence before slamming the ball past Joe Corrigan as he fell over the final attempted challenge. Cue a passion-filled celebration.
|4. Arsenal v Manchester United (1979)
For long periods of the 1979 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Manchester United, the game seemed to be meandering towards a comfortable victory for the Gunners, only for the final five minutes to lift this game to fourth on our list – hence its moniker the ‘Five-Minute Final’.
A Liam Brady-led Arsenal side dominated proceedings at Wembley. The Gunners legend had set up both goals for Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton to give his side a two-goal lead at the break.
And this dominance continued until Gordon McQueen buried what seemed like a late consolation in the 86th minute. Less than 120 seconds later United were level, with Sammy McIlroy finishing with aplomb after a mazy run through the Arsenal defence.
However, rather than be stunned into submission, the London side again found inspiration from Brady as his cross from the left wing found Alan Sunderland at the back post to score just a minute after Arsenal lost their lead and cap a remarkable end to the game.
|3. Blackpool v Bolton (1953)
With his team 3-1 down with over an hour gone – thanks to goals from Nat Lofthouse, Bobby Langton and Eric Bell for the Trotters and Stan Mortensen for Blackpool – Matthews picked the team up and got the ball rolling with a fine right-wing cross for Mortensen to notch his second of the afternoon.
Blackpool grew more and more into the game as Bolton feared the worst and retreated, and with just two minutes on the clock the Seasiders equalised, Mortensen becoming the only person to date to score an FA Cup final hat-trick by rifling in a free kick.
The game headed in to extra time, Matthews again picked up the ball on the right and sent over another cross that narrowly evaded Mortensen but found Bill Perry to score an injury-time winner.
|2. Arsenal v Liverpool (2001)
The Reds had recently won the League Cup while Arsenal were hoping to make amends for their runners-up spot in the Premier League by clinching the FA Cup.
It was a cagey affair, with Arsenal enjoying the majority of possession but failing to turn their dominance into goals. As the game entered the final 20 minutes, Robert Pires spotted the run of Freddie Ljungberg and the Swede rounded Sander Westerveld for a well-deserved lead.
Liverpool finally added some impetus to their play and equalised against the run of play when Michael Owen took advantage of hesitation in the Arsenal defence to slot past David Season seven minutes from time.
Owen then sealed a dramatic turnaround and secured victory for his side when he outpaced Tony Adams to coolly finish for an 88th-minute winner.
|1. Liverpool v West Ham (2006)
As detailed above Liverpool were no strangers to last-minute salvage jobs, but their penalty shootout triumph over West Ham in 2006 is top of the tree.
The Hammers were gifted a 20th-minute lead when Jamie Carragher turned into his own net before Dean Ashton’s instinctive finish gave his side a shock two-goal advantage with less than half an hour gone.
Liverpool, however, had restored parity less than 25 minutes later through Djibril Cisse and Steven Gerrard, only for Paul Koncheksy’s cross-cum-shot to outfox Pepe Reina and against hand West Ham an unlikely lead.
The game raced towards full-time, with Liverpool throwing everything at their opponents. With seconds remaining, the Reds levelled matters in stunning fashion when Gerrard latched on to a loose ball some 30 yards from goal and drilled it low past Shaka Hislop in injury time.
Extra time came and went before Reina made up for his earlier errors by saving three penalties in the shootout to hand his side victory.