5 Great League Cup Finals

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterFebruary 23, 2013

5 Great League Cup Finals

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    Bradford City and Swansea City will contest the Capital One Cup Final tomorrow at Wembley with both teams looking to win the trophy for the first time.

    The Football League Cup is one of the three major domestic honours in English football and has been competed for since Aston Villa defeated Rotherham United over two legs during the 1960-61 season.

    The competition has provided the possibility of silverware for clubs outside of the big names, with Birmingham City and Middlesbrough among the winners in recent years.

    Here we look at the best League Cup finals since the tournament began.

Arsenal 1 Swindon Town 3, 1969

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    Third Division Swindon Town were given little chance of causing an upset against Arsenal in 1969.

    But an outbreak of flu in the Gunners' camp saw the top-tier side decimated, and the Robins took full advantage.

    Roger Smart opened the scoring for Swindon in the first half when Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson and defender Ian Ure became involved in a mix-up.

    Arsenal bombarded the Swindon defence in the second period, and goalkeeper Peter Downsborough made a string of great saves.

    With just four minutes left, however, the Gunners' domination paid off when Bobby Gould headed an equaliser to send the game into extra time.

    Swindon rediscovered their momentum for the additional half-hour as Arsenal faded, and Don Rogers wrote his name into football folklore with his two goals to secure a famous win for the Wiltshire side.

Manchester City 2 Newcastle United 1, 1976

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    The final between Manchester City and Newcastle United could have gone either way before the game, but it was a sensational overhead kick which defined the game.

    Both teams had been on the losing side of cup finals at Wembley in 1974. City were beaten by Wolves in the League while Liverpool had defeated Newcastle in the FA Cup Final. And both teams had a point to prove in 1976.

    City took the lead in the 11th minute when Newcastle failed to clear Mike Doyle's header across the area from an Asa Hartford free kick, and Peter Barnes was on hand to fire home.

    But Newcastle hit back with 10 minutes left in the opening period when Alan Gowling poked home a low cross from fellow striker Malcolm Macdonald.

    One minute after the interval, Dennis Tueart, a Newcastle supporter who had won the FA Cup with Sunderland in 1973, again broke the hearts of his boyhood favourites with a career-defining strike.

    Willie Donnachie's cross from the left flank was headed back across goal by Tommy Booth. The ball was behind Tueart, but the player turned his back to goal and produced an overhead strike which was recreated across British school playgrounds for months afterward.

    This proved to be City's last silverware until the 2011 FA Cup.

Nottingham Forest 3 Southampton 2, 1979

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    Nottingham Forest were the League Cup holders when they lined up against Southampton in the 1979 final and were also chasing a second successive league title and the European Cup.

    But Lawrie McMenemy's Saints team were looking for another famous Wembley win after defeating Manchester United in the 1976 FA Cup Final.

    David Peach gave Southampton a 16th-minute lead to stun Forest, but Brian Clough's side hit back in the second period with two goals from Garry Birtles and another by Tony Woodcock.

    However, the goal scoring was not over and, when Southampton midfielder Nick Holmes lashed home in the 88th minute, Forest's nerves were left jangling before they eventually held on.

    This was the second League Cup triumph for Forest in a run of three consecutive victories in the competition.

Arsenal 2 Luton Town 3, 1988

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    Arsenal were favourites to retain the League Cup in 1988 when took on Luton Town, and two goals from Martin Hayes and Alan Smith inside three second-half minutes to cancel out Brian Stein's opener appeared to have secured the trophy with 16 minutes left.

    However, the late Ray Harford's team had other ideas and regained the momentum when Luton goalkeeper Andy Dibble saved Nigel Winterburn's penalty kick after David Rocastle was fouled inside the area.

    With seven minutes remaining, Arsenal defender Gus Caesar miskicked his clearance and allowed Danny Wilson to equalise in the 82nd minute after resilient work from Stein.

    Then, in the final minute of the final, Ashley Grimes crossed from the right flank and Stein drilled home the winning goal.

Chelsea 3 Liverpool 2, 2005

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    The subplots to the 2005 League Cup Final between Chelsea and Liverpool were numerous.

    This was both Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez's first chance to win silverware with their new clubs, Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard appeared to be on the verge of a move to Stamford Bridge (as he admitted to the Daily Mail in 2009) and the two clubs were chasing the Champions League.

    John  Arne Riise scored the quickest goal in a League Cup Final to open the scoring for the Merseyside club, but with 11 minutes left, Gerrard deflected a free kick beyond his own goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek to send the game into extra time.

    The equaliser also prompted Mourinho to put his finger to his lips in front of the Liverpool fans before the Chelsea boss was asked to leave the dugout by the match official.

    In the 107th minute, Didier Drogba put Chelsea ahead when he smuggled the ball over the line from a Glen Johnson throw-in.

    Five minutes later, Mateja Kezman, who had struggled for goals since joining Chelsea in from PSV Eindhoven for £5.2 million in the summer of 2004, added a third and the cup seemed to be on its way to Stamford Bridge.

    But just a minute later, Antonio Nunez pulled a goal back for Liverpool to ensure a nervy finish to the game before Chelsea ran out 3-2 winners.

    Liverpool and Benitez, though, would have their revenge before the season had finished.