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The greatest FA Cup finals of all time

Sports Mole counts down the greatest FA Cup finals of all time, from Liverpool's stunning 2006 success to Arsenal's 2014 comeback.

Whether it be the old Wembley or the new Wembley, taking the walk up the famed steps to collect their FA Cup final medals is a core memory for many players talented or hard-working enough to compete for glory in the world's oldest club competition.

While the trek past the spectator seats is a chastening experience for the runners-up, the victors bask in adulation as they are bestowed with the coveted crown by a high-ranking figure, both before and after sparks fly on the field.

Now well over 150 years old, having commenced with the inaugural tournament in the 1871-72 season, the FA Cup has witnessed many an unforgettable final in the English capital, from spectacular shocks to multiple-goal thrillers.

Here, Sports Mole takes on the unenviable task of counting down the greatest FA Cup finals of all time.


10. West Ham United 3-2 Preston North End - 1964

Two years before the iconic images of a beaming Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy on his teammates' shoulders were snapped, the West Ham United legend donned the captain's armband in a gripping five-goal FA Cup final versus Preston North End in 1964, one that the Irons came up trumps in.

Tied at 2-2 heading into the dying embers of the match - thanks to Sir Geoff Hurst striking West Ham's second goal of the contest - the capital giants prevailed when one-club man Ronnie Boyce found the mark with 90 minutes on the clock.

The 1964 success under Ron Greenwood marked West Ham's maiden FA Cup triumph following defeat to Bolton Wanderers in the 1923 final, while Preston have not been back to the showpiece match since.


9. Arsenal 3-2 Hull City - 2014

Nine years and counting without a major trophy to their name, Arsenal were not expected to encounter too many obstacles en route to 2014 glory against Hull City, but Steve Bruce's Tigers roared from the first whistle and went two goals to the good thanks to Curtis Davies and James Chester.

However, an exceptional Santi Cazorla free kick quickly reduced the arrears for Arsenal, who drew themselves level in the second half via a Laurent Koscielny effort before Aaron Ramsey capped off a breakthrough season with the decisive goal in extra time.

As a result, the FA Cup bore Arsenal's name for the 11th time in their history, leaving Bruce to lament a failed underdog fairytale and rightly questioning the incorrect decision to award a corner for Koscielny's equaliser.


8. Everton 3-2 Sheffield Wednesday - 1966

Keeping with the theme of staggering comebacks, a certain other cup final in 1966 made more headlines than the FA Cup trophy match, but the old Wembley still played host to a five-goal thriller between Everton and Sheffield Wednesday.

The Owls boasted a two-goal advantage by the 57-minute mark, but in front of Liverpudlian legends John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Everton became just the second and most recent team to fight back from two goals down to win the FA Cup without needing extra time.

Everton were also the first side to achieve that historic comeback feat against 11 men, although with England conquering the globe later that year, the Toffees' triumph paled into relative irrelevance.


7. Liverpool 3-2 Everton - 1989

Twenty-three years on from completing their terrific comeback against Sheffield Wednesday, the shoe was on the other foot for Everton in an all-Merseyside scrap with bitter rivals Liverpool in the final of the 1989 tournament, forever overshadowed by the Hillsborough disaster.

The derby final took place just five weeks after the tragedy, and the Wembley crowd were treated an engrossing affair, in which Stuart McCall's 90th-minute strike cancelled out a fourth-minute John Aldridge opener to force extra time.

Three goals flew into the back of the net during the additional 30 minutes - two for Liverpool icon Ian Rush and another for McCall - as the former's contributions saw Kenny Dalglish's men take home the prize in an emotionally-charged final.


6. Manchester City 0-1 Wigan Athletic - 2013

Ceding their hard-earned Premier League title to Manchester United in Sir Alex Ferguson's last year in charge, Manchester City were at least expected to salvage a sense of pride in the 2012-13 FA Cup final, where Wigan Athletic were their underdog opponents.

However, in the first minute of second-half additional time, Ben Watson met Shaun Maloney's corner kick to the near post and flicked a deft header over Joe Hart's futile reach and into the side of the net, winning the FA Cup for the Latics for the very first time.

The aftermath saw both Man City and Wigan lose something precious to them, though, as while the Citizens parted ways with Premier League-winning boss Roberto Mancini, Wigan were demoted to the Championship, becoming the first team to ever achieve FA Cup stardom and be relegated in the same season.


5. Leeds United 0-1 Sunderland - 1973

While Wigan were condemned to the drop after winning the FA Cup, Sunderland were already competing in the Second Division doldrums by the time they arrived at the old Wembley for the 1973 final, where holders Leeds United would provide formidable opposition.

On paper, the contest was a foregone conclusion from the first whistle, but in front of 100,000 spectators, Sunderland kept Leeds at arm's length and earned a historic 1-0 victory thanks to a solitary Ian Porterfield goal in the 32nd minute.

The Black Cats' astounding success at Wembley will go down as one of the biggest FA Cup final shocks ever seen in the prestigious competition, and at the time, not one of Sunderland's players had been capped by their national teams, also a tournament first.


4. Liverpool 0-1 Wimbledon - 1988

The Crazy Gang sparked crazy scenes at Wembley in the 1987-88 final, where reigning First Division champions Liverpool were expected to take Wimbledon to the cleaners, only to become the victims of one of the competition's quintessential giant killings.

Aldridge, John Barnes and Peter Beardsley all failed to find a way past inspired Wimbledon goalkeeper Dave Beasant - who also denied the former from 12 yards, becoming the first shot-stopper to save a penalty in the FA Cup final - after Lawrie Sanchez had headed home the only goal of the contest.

By earning a memorable scalp over the magnificent Merseysiders, Wimbledon collected their first and only major honour before their dissolution 16 years later.


3. Coventry City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur - 1987

Reuniting five months on from a gripping seven-goal spectacular in league action, the managers of both Tottenham Hotspur and Coventry City expressed a firm belief that the 1986-87 FA Cup final would be one for the ages; how right they were.

Nothing could separate the two foes in normal time, where Gary Mabbutt was among the scorers for Tottenham, but the Lilywhites legend then went from hero to zero, turning the ball into his own net with 96 minutes on the clock.

Mabbutt's unfortunate contribution would end up propelling Coventry to their maiden FA Cup crown, a feat they almost had the chance to replicate in 2023-24, only to see their astonishing semi-final comeback versus Manchester United count for nought.


2. Liverpool 3-3 West Ham United (Liverpool win 3-1 on penalties) - 2006

Forever ingrained in the memories of FA Cup aficionados for THAT Steven Gerrard goal, the 2006 showpiece at the Millennium Stadium - the last one to be held at the Cardiff venue - saw Liverpool and West Ham United share six special goals between them.

Own-goal connoisseur Jamie Carragher, Dean Ashton and Paul Konchesky registered for the Irons, but a Djibril Cisse effort and Gerrard brace - including his sizzling volley in second-half injury time - saved the Reds' bacon and forced a penalty shootout.

While the 2006 trophy match may have been dubbed "The Gerrard Final", the Pepe Reina redemption arc was just as headline-worthy; following his normal-time blunders, the Spaniard stopped three of the four spot kicks he faced to launch Liverpool to the crown.


1. Blackpool 4-3 Bolton Wanderers - 1953

From the Gerrard Final to the Stanley Matthews Final, Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers put on quite the show for Queen Elizabeth II, who attended the 1953 final in her coronation year and found herself in the presence of true footballing royalty.

Three-one up approaching the final 25 minutes of the match, a nine-man Bolton side ravaged by injuries were ostensibly set to crush the dreams of Blackpool, only for Stan Mortensen to complete a phenomenal hat-trick and draw the Tangerines level in the 89th minute.

Extra time was looming in London, but a 38-year-old Matthews had other ideas, as in the second minute of second-half injury time, his cross was on the money for Bill Perry to complete a mind-boggling turnaround, one which saw Sir Stanley finally don an FA Cup winners' medal at the third time of trying.


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Liverpool's Steven Gerrard (R) puts the ball past West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop to score his team's secong goal during the FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, 13 May 2006.
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