Amidst the chaotic scenes that followed Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool in Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley, one moment of brilliance had seemingly been forgotten.
It came from Blues keeper Petr Cech, who by his own high standards has not enjoyed the best of seasons at Stamford Bridge. He certainly made up for it on 82 minutes, clawing out Andy Carroll’s goal-bound header to preserve his side’s slender lead.
As the ‘was it over the line, wasn’t it over the line’ debate raged on, the simple fact that Cech had just made a sensational save quickly passed by in the blink of an eye. It should be remembered as one of the great moments in the competition.
And, in honour of the Czech Republic international’s heroics, GMF has put together its 5 favourite saves in the competitions history. Do you agree with our selections? Have your say at the end of the story…
Dave Beasant – 14/05/88
Wimbledon 1-0 Liverpool
Still the only penalty ‘save’ in an FA Cup final, Beasant guessed right when going left on 61 minutes, pushing John Aldridge’s spot kick round the post to preserve the ‘Crazy Gang’s’ lead.
One of the biggest underdogs in final history, Wimbledon were 33/1 outsiders before the third round began, and took an unlikely lead at the Twin Towers when Lawrie Sanchez headed home a Dennis Wise free-kick.
Unable to break through, the Reds failed to secure a second double in three seasons, with Beasant the hero for the south Londoners against their illustrious Merseyside rivals.
Peter Schmechel – 14/04/99
Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United
It’s perhaps the significance of this penalty save that makes it so good, helping propel the Red Devils onto their famous treble under Sir Alex Ferguson.
David Beckham gave United the lead on 17 minutes, but Dutch master Dennis Bergkamp leveled proceedings in the second period. And, when Roy Keane saw red, it was the Gunners’ to win after Phil Neville chopped down Ray Parlour in the box.
But, with the clock ticking towards the 92nd minute, Schmeichel dived low to his left to deny Bergkamp a winner, pushing his spot kick away and letting out an infamous raw of celebration. It was left to Ryan Giggs to score that famous winner in extra-time.
David Seaman – 13/04/03
Arsenal 1-0 Sheffield United
One of the all-time goalkeeping greats in English football history, Seaman produced a legendary stop to deny substitute Paul Peschisolido and preserve a one-goal lead for the Gunners in this semi-final encounter.
Freddie Ljungberg had given Arsene Wenger’s side a controversial lead, with referee Graham Poll not stopping play for an injury and then blocking a Blades defender in the build-up to the opening goal.
Neil Warnock’s side had their chance with six minutes left though, when Carl Asaba’s shot found the head of Peschisolido, who headed towards an empty net. However, Seaman rolled back the years to claw the ball away from goal, producing a miraculous save to keep Arsenal on course for the trophy.
Arni Gautur Arason – 04/02/04
Tottenham Hotspur 3-4 Manchester City
Who? Arason has 71 international caps for Iceland, but came to prominence in England on one famous night at White Hart Lane when Kevin Keegan’s side produced a miracle.
3-0 down at half-time, midfielder Joey Barton was sent-off for the visitors to all-but end their chances of progressing past the fourth round. Or so it would seem.
Sylvain Distin headed City back into the match from a clever set-piece, before Arason produced his piece of brilliance to keep the tie alive. The former Rosenborg stopper flew to his left to tip a Christian Ziege free-kick onto the bar, before scrambling back to his feet and diving low to save Gus Poyet’s close-range header.
It set the platform for goals from Paul Bosvelt, Shaun Wright-Phillips and John Mackem on a stunning night in north London, sending City through to the next round and a clash with Manchester United.
Petr Cech – 05/05/12
Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool
2-1 up and in the closing stages of the final, substitute Carroll appeared destined to send the game towards extra-time, heading powerfully from close range towards goal.
Cech had other ideas though, getting a right hand to the ball and pushing it onto the crossbar and away, as the England striker wheeled away celebrating what he thought was a legitimate goal.
Ramires and Didier Drogba had given his side the lead, before Carroll’s introduction and subsequent goal brought the game to life. It wasn’t to be though, as Chelsea won a fourth trophy in six seasons.