We all know Liverpool are a great side but to have four matches on this list of ten greatest cup finals is some achievement, they somehow manage to create some of the biggest spectacles in the world. And there’s the other six matches too.
10. Portugal 0-1 Greece, UEFA Euro 2004 Final
This has to be included just for the sheer determination from an underdog to hit the jackpot at the international stage and in a final too. Greece beat Portugal four weeks prior in the tournament’s opening match but little did the hosts know, Angelos Charisteas would pop up in a second half which would seal the European Championship in arguably the biggest shock of an international final.
9. Brazil 4-1 Italy, FIFA World Cup 1970 Final
From a shock to possibly one of the greatest set of players to walk the planet absolutely destroy a great international team in a World Cup final. Everybody has seen that lovely worked team goal which concluded in Carlos Alberto’s fearsome strike late on to kill off an Italian resistance which was dwindling at best. If you were to compile a list of greatest teams on the planet then plenty of Brazil sides would almost certainly crop up which gave an all-time great in Pele three World Cup winner’s medals.
8. Wimbledon 1-0 Liverpool, FA Cup 1988 Final
Just for another pure shock, Wimbledon’s terrific win against such a domineering English club in Liverpool was the least anybody expected when the masses poured into Wembley and tuned into their television sets. Wimbledon had finished a respectable seventh place whilst Liverpool trumped their nearest opponents Manchester United by nine points, continuing a decade of domination, but the 1988 FA Cup final wasn’t to be a figure of such a period. Lawrie Sanchez got the winning goal and John Aldridge had a penalty saved in the now legendary final, the sour taste was felt afterwards for the giant killers as Wimbledon couldn’t compete in European football due to the ban following the Heysel Stadium disaster.
7. Real Madrid 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt, European Cup Final 1960
Real Madrid’s domination in the top flight European competitions hasn’t been matched by any club to date, so much so that the Spanish club has romped to nine European cups. Their fifth of a succession of five since the birth of the European cup was arguably their greatest as they put seven past Eintracht Frankfurt in the highest scoring European final to date which saw a legendary Madrid side continue their domination of the European game.
6. Liverpool 5-4 Alaves, UEFA Cup Final 2001
This time, Liverpool competed in the UEFA Cup final as they faced Alaves in the final after beating the likes of Barcelona and Roma in previous stages. The nine-goal thriller saw Robbie Fowler net Liverpool’s fourth and it seemed that they had clinched a late winner but just moments before the final whistle ex-Man United forward Jordi Cryuff netted an equaliser. Alaves would have two men sent off in a golden goal final and an own goal would cruelly settle the final as Liverpool triumphed in Dortmund.
5. Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 Manchester City, FA Cup Final Replay 1981
It was a terrific final to end all finals and purely because of that Ricky Villa goal as an incredible Tottenham Hotspur team triumphed in 1981 at Wembley in a replay thanks to the Argentine pairing of Villa and Ardiles. Villa had underperformed in the initial contest which ended in a 1-1 draw and perhaps if City would’ve held on, the legend of Ricky Villa wouldn’t live on today. Villa got the ball 30 yards out and the mazy run which sees him ride the challenges of two defenders, before putting Tottenham into a quickly overturned lead, they would win 3-2 as Villa took all the plaudits with his two goals.
4. England 4-2 West Germany, FIFA World Cup 1966 Final
This particular World Cup final is now identified as a huge figurehead in an argument for the pride of Britain, not only in 20th century but at an all-time level. Jimmy Greaves’ injury left Geoff Hurst in the starting line-up in the knockout phases which saw England beat Portugal and Argentina as they faced the old enemy, West Germany in late July at Wembley. Hurst and Peters combined as Germany pushed England all the way to extra time thanks to a late goal from Wolfgang Weber, Geoff Hurst then sparked an age-old debate as his strike on 101 minutes seemingly crossed the line but the dispute still lies with every Germany football fanatic and pundit across the globe whether Hurst’s effort actually crossed the line. Germany have since got their revenge but none on a higher scale than in a World Cup final as Hurst completed his hat-trick, the first man to do so in a World Cup final, as England took home their first World Cup title.
3. Liverpool 3-3 West Ham United, FA Cup Final 2006
Would you believe it? Liverpool enter in at number three for another remarkable final, this time in the FA Cup in 2006 where they beat West Ham on penalties thanks to a memorable high-scoring draw. It brought memories back from 2001 in the first Millennium Stadium FA Cup final and the UEFA Cup final from the same year. West Ham would race into an early two-goal advantage but Liverpool soon tied the game up through Djibril Cisse and Steven Gerrard. Paul Konchesky’s cross somehow beat Pepe Reina on the back post but one of the greatest FA Cup moments still lay ahead. Gerrard’s 30-yard strike in second half stoppage time ensured the match would receive the glory of extra time and a penalty shootout, of which Liverpool won 3-1.
2. Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich, UEFA Champions League Final 1999
Here is a final I remember vividly, despite being only six years of age watching on from my lounge floor back in the summer of ’99. Manchester United were chasing a famous treble after beating Newcastle in the FA Cup and pipping Arsenal to a league title by just the one point. You just felt that Bayern wouldn’t spoil the party, however, the German club were on for a Treble of their own and soon took the lead through a deflected Mario Basler free kick very early on. Bayern seemingly controlled the remainder of the match, peppering the United goal and hitting the woodwork twice in the second half. As UEFA officials decorated the Champions League trophy with the Bayern Munich ribbons, Peter Schmeichel (in his last United match), joined the attack as Beckham whipped in a corner. Ryan Giggs’ effort fell to Teddy Sheringham and the cries from Clyde Tyldsley of “name on the trophy” echo in my mind. Just a minute later, the famous line of “they always score” along with “and Solskjaer has done it!” the little babyfaced assassin had completely one of the swiftest turnarounds in football history.
1. Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan, UEFA Champions League Final 2005
Solskjaer and co. might have produced one of the most memorable and swiftest turnarounds in any football match, let alone cup final history but the final between Liverpool and AC Milan for the same trophy some six years later produced a lot more entertainment. Steven Gerrard had saved Liverpool from the UEFA Cup, smashing in a truly great volley against Olympiakos in the group stages to ensure their progress before they beat Chelsea in a controversial semi-final. Meanwhile, Milan had squirmed through their semi-final on away goals against PSV. Paolo Maldini opened the scoring within literally seconds from a whipped in free-kick before Hernan Crespo’s lethal double before the break had Liverpool fans switching over to EastEnders up and down the country. For those who stayed tuned had the greatest of all treats waiting for them as captain fantastic, Stevie G who had rescued them on many occasions prior and after this final headed in to give Liverpool the hope that they craved. Just six minutes later, Dida was facing a penalty from Xabi Alonso to tie up the match after a dubious penalty which saw Gerrard tripped. Alonso had the penalty saved but the Brazilian ‘keeper wasn’t equal to the rebound as Liverpool arrived in the final. Somehow, Andriy Shevchenko didn’t find the net in extra time as his Polish counterpart was equal to both of his efforts and it was ultimately Shevchenko who stepped up and failed from the spot to give wobbly-legs Jerzy Dudek legendary status at Anfield and Liverpool their fifth European cup.