This weekend’s FA Cup semi-finals are both derby games and look set to be intriguing contests.
This time of year always gets GMF going through the archives to relive and reminisce over some of the great FA Cup games from the past.
There is nothing quite so satisfying as looking on a particularly popular video hosting website and swimming on grainy footage of past classics.
This year is no different and GMF have collated the five best FA Cup semi-finals from recent history – here they are…
1) Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal, Villa Park, 1999
This was always going to be in here, wasn’t it? What a game. The first attempt to decide the winner was a dull affair, ending scoreless. The return was an altogether more lively affair and gave us one of the most iconic images in the modern era, albeit a really hairy chest.
United took the lead with a fine David Beckham strike, Dennis Bergkamp’s deflected shot squarded things up, Nicolas Anelka had a goal disallowed for offside, Roy Keane was sent off, Bergkamp missed a late penalty and Ryan Giggs scored one of the best, most dramatic goals the competition has ever seen. Sensational.
2) Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Arsenal, Wembley, 1991
Famous for a piece of sublime skill from one of England’s most talented ever players and one that Spurs fans recall fondly. Paul Gascoigne opened the scoring with his fantastic effort from all of 35 yards out and it went down as one of the best free-kicks ever to grace the old Wembley.
Gary Lineker doubled the lead on ten minutes, before Alan Smith pulled one back for the Gunners, but Lineker had the final say with a rare solo effort. It was a remarkable win over a formidable Arsenal side that would famously go on to win the league that season with the last kick of the game at Anfield.
Spurs fans may also take heart for this weekend from the fact that before this brilliant display they lost 2-1 to Norwich City in the League.
3) Crystal Palace 4-3 Liverpool, Villa Park, 1990
This was a huge shock at the time as Liverpool were overhauling Aston Villa in the league and had already battered Palace 9-0 at Anfield earlier in the season. The south London club got their own back in style by scuppering the Merseysiders' chances of a double with Alan Pardew’s extra-time winner clinching the tie.
Palace would go on to take part in one of the most dramatic finals in history by taking Manchester United to a replay, famous for goals by soon to be Arsenal favourite Ian Wright. The Eagles were underdogs, however, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s men triumphed in the final replay.
4) Manchester United 3-3 Oldham Athletic, Maine Road, 1990
This tie is often overlooked due to the above Palace victory over double-chasing Liverpool, but Joe Royle’s exciting young Oldham side gave Sir Alex Ferguson a run for his money and nearly stopped him from wining his first trophy.
They took the lead in this first game through Earl Barrett but Bryan Robson levelled for the Red Devils. It ended in a dramatic draw after extra-time and went to a replay.
United won that 2-1, again it went to extra-time, and went on to lift the cup.
5) Chesterfield 3-3 Middlesbrough, Old Trafford, 1997
Another dramatic draw after extra-time where ten man Middlesbrough thought they had done enough to make it through to a showdown with Chelsea at Wembley.
Chesterfield had taken a two-goal lead on the hour through Andy Morris and a Sean Dyche penalty, but they were pegged back by a Fabrizio Ravanelli goal and Craig Hignett spot kick.
Gianluca Festa gave the Teesiders the lead on 100 minutes and they thought it was enough to win the game, but their hopes crushed with a minute of added time to go when Jamie Hewitt popped up with the equaliser.
Boro, to their credit, brushed their opponents aside 3-0 in the replay but they would eventually lose the final to Chelsea.
There we have it, the five best FA Cup semi-finals.
Do you agree? If not, or even just to tell us something, leave a comment below to let us know…
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