From Stanley Matthews to Steven Gerrard, five classic FA Cup finals

By Andy Hampson, PA
PA Media: Sport

March 16 marks the 148th anniversary of the first FA Cup final, when the London-based Wanderers beat Army side Royal Engineers 1-0 at the Kennington Oval, now better known as a cricket venue.

Here, the PA news agency looks at five classic finals.

The Matthews Final (1953)

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Almost unarguably the greatest final of them all, and easily the most celebrated. It was when the great Stanley Matthews, then 38, finally earned a winners’ medal to much national acclaim. It was that, and the winger’s sublime performance at Wembley, that led to the match forever being known by just his name. Yet it was not all about him, with Stan Mortensen hitting a hat-trick as Blackpool came from behind to beat Bolton 4-3. Bolton led 3-1 on 55 minutes after goals from Nat Lofthouse, Willie Moir and Eric Bell, with Mortensen replying. But Matthews took charge with some darting runs down the right, causing chaos in the Bolton defence. Mortensen pounced on an error to pull one back and then levelled with a thunderous last-minute free-kick. The crowning moment came in injury time as Matthews beat his man and pulled the ball back for Bill Perry to slot home the winner.

Arsenal overcome United fightback (1979)

In one of the most dramatic endings seen in a cup final, Arsenal surrendered a 2-0 lead to Manchester United but then hit back to win 3-2, all in the last four minutes. The Gunners looked to be cruising after the outstanding Liam Brady set up goals for Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton in the first half. Even when Gordon McQueen bundled home a reply on 86 minutes it seemed like only a consolation, until Sammy McIlroy equalised after a mazy run on 88. Yet Brady was not done, breaking forward and finding Graham Rix, who crossed for Alan Sunderland to slide in the winner at the back post.

Ricky Villa magic (1981)

The 100th FA Cup final was a 1-1 draw between Manchester City and Tottenham, with Tommy Hutchison cancelling out his own header by deflecting a Glenn Hoddle free-kick into his own net. That took the tie to a replay in which Argentinian star Ricky Villa secured his place in English football folklore in a 3-2 Spurs win. Villa opened the scoring after eight minutes when he pounced on a rebound only for City to hit back as Steve McKenzie connected with a long-range volley. A Kevin Reeves penalty put City ahead but Garth Crooks poked home Spurs’ equaliser from a deft ball by Hoddle. Villa won it on 76 minutes with one of Wembley’s great goals. Picking up the ball midway inside the City half, he beat two defenders to run into the box. He then cut back inside and slipped the ball past Joe Corrigan.

Coventry cause shock (1987)

Spurs were on the other end of a 3-2 scoreline as unfancied Coventry produced one of the great FA Cup final upsets six years later. Things seemed to be running to form when Clive Allen headed Spurs ahead after just two minutes but Dave Bennett equalised almost immediately. Gary Mabbutt got the final touch as Spurs went back ahead before the break but Bennett crossed for Keith Houchen to make it 2-2 with his famous diving header. The Sky Blues clinched it in extra time when Mabbutt diverted a Lloyd McGrath cross into his own goal.

The Gerrard Final (2006)

A year after inspiring a brilliant comeback in the Champions League final, Steven Gerrard did it again in the FA Cup final, twice scoring equalisers as Liverpool drew 3-3 with West Ham and then went on to win on penalties. Played at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium as Wembley was rebuilt, Liverpool went 2-0 down after two mistakes. First Jamie Carragher put past Pepe Reina and the keeper then fumbled for Dean Ashton to score. Djibril Cisse pulled one back with a volley and Gerrard equalised by thrashing into the roof of the net. Paul Konchesky put the Hammers back ahead with a cross-cum-shot but Gerrard dramatically levelled again with an even greater strike in injury time. He then scored again in the successful shoot-out.

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