10 Biggest FA Cup Semi-Final Upsets

Ryan Bailey@ryanjaybaileyFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2014

10 Biggest FA Cup Semi-Final Upsets

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    Dan Smith/Getty Images

    This weekend sees the semi-finals of the 133rd season of the FA Cup and the stage is set for some potential upsets. 

    Championship side Wigan will face Arsenal on Saturday, hoping they can pull off a shock like they did against Manchester City in the quarter-final—and last year's final.

    Hull, meanwhile, will try to overcome League One side Sheffield United, who have already dismissed Aston Villa and Fulham in this campaign.

    To whet your appetite for a potential shocker, here are ten of the biggest FA Cup semi-final upsets in history.

10. Sunderland 1-0 Norwich, 1992

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    Three years after the Hillsborough Disaster, Sheffield Wednesday's home hosted the semi-final between First Division Norwich and Second Division Sunderland.

    The Mackems were struggling in the second tier and the clear underdogs for the tie, but managed a 1-0 win through striker John Byrne.

    It was the first time a team outside the top flight had made the final in a decade and Sunderland fans hoped for a giant killing similar to their famous win over Leeds in the 1973 final. Sadly, it wasn't to be, and they lost 2-0 to Liverpool at Wembley. 

9. Chelsea 5-1 Tottenham, 2012

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    Both semi-finals of the 2011/12 FA Cup were local derbies, with Liverpool taking on Everton and Chelsea facing Tottenham.

    Not only was Chelsea's thrashing of Tottenham an upset because of the high scoreline, but because of a controversial goal-line incident. The Blues were 1-0 up when Benoit Assou-Ekotto appeared to block a Juan Mata shot on the line. Referee Martin Atkinson, however, awarded the goal. 

    The hefty margin of victory may have rendered the incident less important, but Spurs fans were certainly not happy. 

8. Stoke 5-0 Bolton, 2011

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    The year before Chelsea's big victory at Wembley, Stoke recorded an even bigger one over Bolton. The 5-0 rout was the highest post-war winning margin and the highest amount of goals scored by a single side in an FA Cup semi-final. The semi-final scoring record, incidentally, belongs to Newcastle, who beat Fulham 6-0 in 1908.

    Three first-half goals from Matthew Etherington, Robert Huth and Kenwyne Jones buried the Trotters, while a Jon Waters brace in the second half eased the Potters to their first ever FA Cup Final, which they lost to Manchester City. 

7. Middlesbrough 3-3 Chesterfield, 1997

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    On 13 April 1997, Old Trafford was the scene of a classic FA Cup semi-final tie between Bryan Robson's glamorous Middlesbrough and third-tier Chesterfield. 

    Boro's line-up—featuring the likes of Juninho, Emerson and Fabrizio Ravanelli—were matched by the Spireites in a thrilling 3-3 draw that should have finished in the underdogs' favour, as referee David Elleray ruled out Jonathan Howard's perfectly legitimate goal.

    A replay was held at Hillsborough the following week, which Middlesbrough won 3-0. Interestingly, Boro made both domestic cup finals that year and lost them both. 

6. QPR 1-0 West Brom, 1982

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    On 3 April 1982, Second Division Queens Park Rangers faced West Brom at Highbury for the right to play in the FA Cup Final. 

    The Baggies were playing in their 19th FA Cup semi and this was QPR's first, but the London side managed to pull off a 1-0 victory thanks to a goal from Clive Allen. 

    QPR faced Spurs—who were weakened by the absence of Argentinians Ricardo Villa and Ossie Ardiles—in the final and drew 1-1. They lost the replay 1-0 five days later. 

5. West Ham 2-1 Everton, 1980

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    After a heated game at Villa Park ended 1-1, Second Division West Ham met top-tier Everton for an FA Cup semi-final replay on 16 April 1980. 

    The tie was still deadlocked after 90 minutes and heading to a third replay, before Frank Lampard Sr stepped up and scored for the lower league side with two minutes to go, celebrating his effort by dancing around the corner flag. 

    The Hammers went on to beat holders Arsenal in the final, marking the last time a side from outside the top tier has won the competition. 

4. Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool, 1980

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    On the same evening that West Ham triumphed over Everton in 1980, Liverpool drew with Arsenal 1-1, after a goal-less original tie.

    This prompted a second replay the following week, which was also a 1-1 draw thanks to Alan Sunderland's opener for the Gunners in the first minute and a Kenny Dalglish equaliser in injury time.

    So, for the first time in FA Cup history, a semi-final had to be played for a fourth time. A Brian Talbot strike finally ended this epic battle of attrition, but it was all for nothing as The Gunners lost to the aforementioned West Ham at Wembley.

3. Portsmouth 2-0 Tottenham, 2010

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    By the time Portsmouth faced Tottenham at Wembley in 2010, Avram Grant's side knew they were to be relegated from the Premier League amid very serious financial trouble. 

    Pompey's clash with the side led by their former manager Harry Redknapp wasn't a classic thanks to the questionable playing surface, and the game finished 0-0 in normal time.

    Spurs' concentration lapsed in extra time and a goal from Frederic Piquionne and a Kevin Prince-Boateng penalty put the South-Coast side through to the final, which they eventually lost to Chelsea.

2. Wimbledon 2-1 Luton, 1988

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    Wimbledon's rise to the top of the English game is a fairytale that may never be repeated again. In 1986, the Dons were promoted to the First Division just four seasons after being in the Fourth Division. 

    Two seasons later, they went on an FA Cup run that led them to a meeting with First Division-stalwarts Luton Town at White Hart Lane.

    Before the game, Hatters fans held up a banner that read "Grit and flair can get us there," but a Mick Harford opener was cancelled out by a John Fashanu penalty and a Dennis Wise winner. Against all odds, the Dons had earned their first FA Cup Final appearance. 

    Wimbledon went on to Wembley to beat Liverpool in one of the biggest upsets in FA Cup history. 

1. Crystal Palace 4-3 Liverpool, 1990

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    Newly promoted Crystal Palace's 1989/90 First Division campaign got off to a shaky start with a 9-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool. 

    Seven months later, the Eagles sought their revenge at Villa Park in a thrilling 4-3 FA Cup victory. Midfielder Alan Pardew bagged the winner in the 109th minute to earn Palace a historic win and help to deny Liverpool the double for the third consecutive season.

    Palace almost pulled off a bigger shock in the final, and they led Manchester United 3-2 in extra time thanks to Ian Wright. Unfortunately for Palace, Mark Hughes evened the scores to take the game to a replay, which they lost 1-0.

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