Five of the best: English Cup upsets

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Football News

When the final whistle blew at Villa Park last night, and Bradford City confirmed their place in this year's Capital One Cup final, with a 4-3 aggregate victory over Premier League opponents Aston Villa, players of the League Two outfit also etched their names into football folklore, achieving one of the greatest Cup upsets of the modern era.

Manager, Phil Parkinson - the man that will lead the Bantams out at Wembley next month - wore an expression that combined both shock and elation, befitting the shared feeling of joy that brushed over the entire English football family.

Tuesday's giant killing will forever remain one of the game's greatest legends, providing more compelling evidence that dreams can still come true, even in an age of unforgiving, and ruthless entertainment.

Bradford's accomplishment is the latest in a long line of fairytale stories where the underdog has prevailed. Sometimes down to luck, other times it was fate, or destiny, and on the odd occasion - like last night - it was because the plucky competitor outperformed their high profile opponents.

The facts show that Bradford's success was not a fluke. They have taken out three Premier League teams - Wigan Athletic, Arsenal and now Aston Villa - on the way to becoming the first team from English football's fourth tier, to reach the final of the League Cup since Rochdale in 1962.

In celebration of the club's fine achievement, GiveMeFootball has decided to trawl the archives, and reminisce about some of the greatest Cup giant killings in recent history. Where last night's performance ranks amongst the top five, you decide…

Wimbledon 1-0 Liverpool, FA Cup final, May 14, 1988

Liverpool's dominance of English football in the 1980s meant that everyone expected them to stroll past Wimbledon at Wembley. The flair of John Barnes, Peter Beardsley and predatory instincts of John Aldridge should have been too much for the Crazy Gang.

But, the side from south London outfought their Merseyside opponents, winning by a solitary goal, when a Dennis Wise free-kick was headed home by striker, Lawrie Sanchez.

Dons goalkeeper Dave Beasant then went on to make FA Cup history, becoming the first stopper to save a penalty in the final, from a despairing Aldridge.

Wrexham 2-1 Arsenal, FA Cup third round, January 4, 1992

First Division holders Arsenal were fluctuating in form, but no problems were predicted against a lowly Wrexham side struggling in the fourth tier, at the Racecourse Ground.

The Gunners went into the break with a 1-0 lead, after Alan Smith poked home a Paul Merson cross, but a stunning second-half fightback marked a memorable day for the Welsh club.

Mickey Thomas fired an unstoppable free-kick past David Seaman with eight minutes to go, and two minutes later, Steve Watkin stabbed home the most unlikely of winners, as George Graham and his players were left with red faces. 

Manchester United 0-3 York City, League Cup second round, 1st leg, September 20, 1995

Sir Alex Ferguson named a weakened side for what was expected to be a straight-forward cup clash against lowly opposition, but the United team sheet still included a number of household names, including Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Gary Pallister and Lee Sharpe.

An uncharacteristically poor performance at Old Trafford, allowed third division York City to record their most famous ever victory, with two goals from Paul Barnes and a late third from Tony Barras.

The Red Devils boss was furious and fielded all the big guns at Bootham Crescent for the second leg, but the Premier League giants could only manage a 3-1 win, which saw them dumped out of the competition 4-3 on aggregate.

Barnsley 1-0 Chelsea, FA Cup sixth round, March 8, 2008

Holders Chelsea were expected to cruise to the Wembley final, with the added incentive that Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United had all already crashed out of the competition.

Championship side Barnsley hadn't read the pre-match script, though, with the Tykes making it through to the semi-finals for the first time since 1912, on an unforgettable night at Oakwell.

Kayode Odejayi's header midway through the second-half proved to be the difference, on the night, giving former manager Simon Davey one of his greatest moments in club management, whilst piling further pressure on interim Blues boss Avram Grant.

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