Ryan Giggs FA Cup goal vs Arsenal

FA Cup: The 10 Greatest Fixtures Of All-Time

2018-05-20
Memorable encounters in England's oldest club competition

Officially the oldest competition still running anywhere in the football world, few could have imagined the FA Cup would still delight fans almost a century and a half later.

Over many years the FA Cup has brought us countless memorable matches, with the magic and mystique of the competition remaining firmly intact, primarily thanks to how each round is drawn.

These have produced mouth-watering matches between the greatest teams of every era, plus authentic David vs. Goliath encounters between lower-league minnows and top-flight titans; some providing fascinating giant-killing outcomes to truly upset the odds.

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With so much history involved, choosing the top FA Cup matches of all time is no easy feat.

Here at 888sport, we've attempted to do precisely that, taking not only the results into account but also the context of what made each encounter so special in the history of this great competition.

 

10. Hereford United 2-1 Newcastle United (1972)

Plenty of respect had already been earned by non-league Hereford United after their 2-2 draw at St James Park against Newcastle United had already been considered an upset in the third round.

However, the best was yet to come for the non-league side, when they produced a giant-killing victory that’s still fondly remembered in FA Cup history.

Despite the awful pitch conditions, Newcastle took the lead, but the game was taken to extra time by a magnificent goal by Ronnie Radford, which you’ll still see replayed often to this day.

Hereford right-back Roger Griffiths had played most of the game with a broken leg, it was later discovered, before he was replaced by Ricky George, who grabbed the winner and secured a memorable FA Cup win for his side.

 

9. Wimbledon 1-0 Liverpool (1988)

Few rags to riches tales in football can beat that of Wimbledon’s rise from the non-league to the old First Division in the space of ten seasons.

That rise was then crowned by the memorable Crazy Gang’s achievement of winning the 1988 FA Cup final, against no less than the English champions of the 1987-88 season, Liverpool.

For all the style and panache of their football, Liverpool simply couldn’t find a way past the courage and resolve of Wimbledon, not even from the penalty spot.

David Beasant became the first-ever goalkeeper not only to save a penalty in the FA Cup final, but also the first to lift the trophy as captain, thanks to Lawrie Sanchez heading in the winner after a free-kick from Dennis Wise.

 

8. Blackpool 4-3 Bolton Wanderers (1953)

Back when these two sides were fearsome opponents amongst the English football elite, over 100,000 fans packed Wembley for what became known as the Stanley Matthews Final.

Nat Lofthouse had opened the Bolton scoring inside two minutes, while captain Willie Moir and Eric Bell put the side in a seemingly unassailable 1-3 lead.

However, a dangerous cross by Matthews provided Stan Mortensen with his second goal of the game and Blackpool with hope.

Mortensen completed his hat-trick with an 89th-minute free-kick, then Matthews whipped in another dangerous cross deep into stoppage time, providing Bill Perry with the winning goal.

 

7. Sutton United 2-1 Coventry City (1989)

It remains one of the most famous FA Cup giant-killings of the last thirty years, and for good reason.

Coventry City were a strong First Division side who had won the FA Cup just 18 months previously, so when they headed to the Gander Green Lane home of non-league minnows Sutton United in the third round, few expected an upset.

Sutton stunned their rivals with a Tony Rains goal just before half-time, against the run of play, although when David Philips equalised in the second half, Coventry seemed firmly back on track.

However, a dangerous free-kick just moments later from Sutton brought what proved to be the winning goal, with Matthew Hanlan applying the finish and securing his side a monumental victory.

 

6. Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United (2010)

When a lower league side topples one of the biggest clubs in the FA Cup, such a feat is usually referred to as a giant-killing. But what if the winning team used to be considered a giant themselves?

Leeds United had gone from being Champions League semi-finalists to slumming it in League One in just a few disastrous seasons when they crossed paths with their fiercest of rivals across the Pennines.

The previous season, Manchester United won the Premier League and League Cup double, plus the Club World Cup, and were Champions League runners-up and semi-finalists in the FA Cup.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were predicted an easy victory, but when Jermaine Beckford slotted a cool finish past Edwin van der Sar, the 9,000 travelling Leeds United fans were those cheering wildly at Old Trafford.

 

5. Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 Manchester City (1981)

A 1-1 draw was the outcome of the 100th FA Cup final after extra-time, so five days later, Tottenham and Man City met once again at Wembley to decide the winner of the famous trophy.

Fans who returned were treated to one of the greatest ever finals, which will be forever marked by one unforgettable moment of individual magic.

Deadlocked at 1-1 again as the half-time whistle blew, City edged ahead from the penalty spot early in the second half. Garth Crooks grabbed the Spurs equaliser and then in the 76th minute, Ricky Villa wrote himself into FA Cup folklore.

The Argentine ace took control of the ball just outside the area and surged forward before slotting his finish past Joe Corrigan, wheeling away in jubilant celebration with his teammates.

 

4. Everton 4-4 Liverpool (1991)

The first encounter had been a 0-0 draw at Anfield, but in the fifth-round replay at Goodison Park, Liverpool were still the favourites to beat Everton and progress to the quarter-finals.

What transpired was possibly one of the greatest Merseyside Derby encounters of all time, in a thrilling attacking spectacle which produced eight goals.

Liverpool took the lead four times, but Everton fought back to equalise four times and even extra-time couldn’t separate the two sides.

Stunningly, Kenny Dalglish resigned 48 hours later, the pressure of managing the Reds proving too much for the Scotsman, and the following week, Everton won the second replay.

 

3. Burnley 0-1 Lincoln City (2017)

Lincoln City travlled to Burnley after becoming one of only nine non-league teams to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup since 1945 after beating Championship leaders Brighton and Hove Albion in the fourth round.

A magical run for Lincoln was expected to finally end at Turf Moor against Sean Dyche's side but the National League outfit clearly hadn’t read the script.

Although they had managed to resist everything Burnley could throw at them, Lincoln hadn’t registered a single shot on target throughout the whole game until the 89th minute, when Sean Ragget got himself on the end of a dangerous cross.

It needed goal-line technology to prove his header had crossed the line, making Lincoln the first non-league side to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals in 103 years.

 

2. Crystal Palace 4-3 Liverpool (1990)

Earlier during the season in the league, Liverpool had mercilessly thrashed Crystal Palace 9-0 at Anfield, so after being drawn together in the FA Cup semi-finals, everyone predicted the Reds would easily book their place in the final.

On 8th April 1990, at the neutral venue of Villa Park, the Eagles had other ideas and produced an enthralling encounter.

Ian Rush had Liverpool ahead at half-time, but an equaliser by Mark Bright shortly after the second half began, completely changed the game’s perspective.

Gary O’Reilly put Palace ahead, before a flurry of goals in the last ten minutes. Steve McMahon equalised, John Barnes scored a penalty to put Liverpool back in the lead, before Andy Gray levelled the game at 3-3.

Deep into extra-time, up popped none other than Alan Pardew to head in the winner for Crystal Palace, earning the South London club their first-ever appearance in the FA Cup final.

 

1. Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal (1999)

This was a remarkable game that quite literally had it all. Neck and neck in the Premier League title race, Manchester United and Arsenal were both aiming for the domestic double when the two sides were paired in the FA Cup semi-finals.

The first encounter ended in a 0-0 draw after extra time at Villa Park, so just three days later on 14th April 1999, the Red Devils and the Gunners locked horns again at the same venue. This time, David Beckham broke the deadlock with a spectacular looping shot over David Seaman from 35 yards out in the 17th minute.

United spurned several chances to kill the game and eventually, their wasted efforts were punished by Denis Bergkamp in the 69th minute, firing in a superb finish from outside the area.

Roy Keane was dismissed for his second yellow card of the game in the 74th minute, giving Arsenal plenty of reasons to believe they could now win the game.

With extra time beckoning for a second time and ninety minutes gone on the clock, Phil Neville brought down Ray Parlour inside the area, and with no hesitation, referee David Elleray pointed to the spot. Up stepped Bergkamp to strike, but Peter Schmeichel brilliantly made the save.

Arsenal dominated with numerous threatening chances in extra time, though United again had their ‘Great Dane’ between the posts to thank for keeping them in the game. Then the deciding moment came with 109 minutes on the clock.

A stray pass from Patrick Viera deep in the United half was intercepted near the touchline by Ryan Giggs, who immediately sprang forth on a mazy run which saw him beat five Arsenal players down the left, before smashing his finish past Seaman.

Often hailed as the greatest FA Cup goal of all time, that moment of individual brilliance from Giggs had fired his team into the final. It also decided what can fairly be considered the most enthralling FA Cup encounter of all time, which also came at a pivotal moment in the 1998-99 season.

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Having won the double the previous season, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal finished the 1998-99 campaign empty handed while Alex Ferguson's Manchester United won the Premier League on the final day of the season.

United then went on to beat Newcastle United in the FA Cup final, and then Bayern Munich with two stoppage-time goals in the Champions League final, completing an unprecedented treble in English football.