The FA Cup Final of 2006 was undoubtedly one of the most exciting Cup Finals in recent years. Liverpool were certainly the favorites going into the game and a landslide victory was never really unlikely. An interesting fact to note, perhaps, is that nine of West Ham’s starting 11 were English; Liverpool on the other hand, only had three Englishmen in their first team.
West Ham, however, were gifted the initiative, as Jamie Carragher presented The Hammers a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a superb own goal in the 20th minute. (Maybe that’s why Liverpool didn’t keep Englishmen in their first squad.)
Reina was the next to screw up for The Kop, as he fumbled a relatively tame shot from Matthew Ethrington. The ball fell loose in the six yard box and Dean Ashton was quick to pounce, scuffling the ball just over the line. The Reds were down, but certainly not out.
This was realized no sooner than the 32nd minute, as Steven Gerrard floated a ball into the box. The cross was met by Djibil Cisse, who netted with his spectacular first touch on the ball.
Liverpool then slowly began to edge their way back into game. Xabi Alonso sent a cross into the box that was headed down into ground. The ball took one bounce before finding itself in the path of Steven Gerrard (again!). The captain made no mistake and smashed the ball into the back of the net. The comeback was complete. Or so you’d have thought.
Just as it seemed Liverpool had assumed control of the game, West Ham regained their advantage in freakish fashion: Paul Konchesky sent a cross into the box, which landed inside of the goal! There was absolutely no chance Konchesky meant to score such an extraordinary goal, but they do all count, don’t they?
It then seemed as if West Ham were heading for a historic victory. But alas! It was not to be. As the fourth official signaled three minutes of added time, the ball found its way to Steven Gerrard. (You’d think West Ham would have learned who to mark by now, really.) The Liverpool captain put his foot through the ball and blasted it straight into the bottom corner of the net…from a full 35 yards out! The Kop went wild and Hammers Fans crumbled in agony. The match progressed to extra time and penalties ensued. Reina then saved three crucial penalties as The Reds won the shoot-out and sealed victory in one of the greatest finals ever played.