6 Memorable FA Cup Finals of the 21st Century

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6 Memorable FA Cup Finals of the 21st Century
Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Arsenal will bid to finally end their nine-year trophy drought at Wembley on Saturday and their showdown with Hull City will bring the curtain down on another exhilarating season from English football’s top-flight clubs.

In the build up to Saturday’s showpiece event, here’s a look back at some of the most memorable finals in recent years.

 

6) Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa, 2000.

Ben Radford/Getty Images

Maybe not the most memorable game in terms of quality, but this one will forever be remembered as the last to be played at the original Wembley stadium.

A dull and tentative affair was settled when future manager Roberto di Matteo capitalised on an error by Villa goalkeeper David James. It was hardly as remarkable as the Italian’s cup final goal three years earlier against Middlesbrough, but it still provided Chelsea with the trophy.

It meant Dennis Wise, who was also named man of the match, became the last ever skipper to lift the famous trophy in front of the old Wembley crowd.

 

5) Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United, 2007.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

An equally tedious encounter for the neutral, but again it will be remembered in the history books as being a very famous final due to the fact it was the first to be played at the new Wembley.

A lot was expected from a final which saw England’s two best teams collide, but it largely failed to live up to expectations. After a goalless 90 minutes, the contest went to extra-time.

With just four minutes remaining, Didier Drogba prodded past Edwin van der Sar to ensure penalties were not needed—considering what happened in Moscow 12 months later, that’s probably for the best.

 

4) Portsmouth 1-0 Cardiff City, 2008.

The 2008 campaign was the year of the underdogs as Portsmouth met Championship side Cardiff in the FA Cup final.

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It was the Premier League side who edged it thanks to Kanu’s first-half strike, which would prove to be the game’s only goal. It sealed an incredible journey for Harry Redknapp’s men, who had gone from Championship strugglers to FA Cup winners in just a few short years.

Five years later and they’d be plying their trade in the basement tier of English football. This final will also be remembered for the late introduction of Cardiff boy Aaron Ramsey, who became the second youngest player to appear in a cup final—the record is held by Curtis Weston, who represented Millwall in the 2004 final.

 

3) Liverpool 3-3 West Ham United, 2006.

Between the two Chelsea successes of 2000 and 2007, the FA Cup final was temporarily homed at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Of those finals, one of the most exciting had to be the 2006 clash between West Ham and Liverpool.

After the Hammers had taken a shock 2-0 lead, Liverpool drew level through goals by Djibril Cisse and captain Steven Gerrard. However, the underdogs edged back in front via Paul Konchesky’s complete fluke just after the hour.

West Ham looked like holding on but, as the match rolled into injury time, the Liverpool skipper rescued his team with a thunderous strike from distance—one of the most magical moments in FA Cup history.

West Ham held on in extra-time but would miss three of four penalties to hand Liverpool the trophy. An epic final.

 

2) Wigan Athletic 1-0 Manchester City, 2013.

Last year’s final was a real David v Goliath battle as relegated Wigan faced billionaires Manchester City.

The stars of City were expected to coast through the final, but a spirited Wigan held firm throughout. As time progressed, and the underdogs grew in confidence, doubts within the Citizens team became visible.

As the game entered injury time, late substitute Ben Watson climbed highest from a corner to nod Wigan into the unlikeliest of leads. 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.

 

1) Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal, 2001.

The 2006 final may have been the most exciting of the Millennium Stadium era, but the 2001 edition was easily the most dramatic ending.

In the first final to be played in Wales, Arsenal had taken a 72nd-minute lead through midfielder Freddie Ljungberg. The Gunners were still in front heading into the final seven minutes. Up until this point, it had been a distinctly average final but sometimes an entire season can be defined by a single moment—this was to be Michael Owen’s time to shine.

The Liverpool man first scored with a close range finish on 83 minutes to restore parity. Five minutes later, Owen had turned the game on its head by putting the Merseysiders in front with a tidy solo effort that will forever be remembered as one of the great cup final goals. It was a truly breathtaking climax to the final, which makes it one of the most memorable matches of all time.

Which finals would have made your list? Post your selections below.

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