Top 10 Best League Cup Final Moments

City v Chelsea, 2019 - Kepa Refuses to come off

One of the most bizarre moments in recent football history happened during the 2019 Carabao Cup final between Manchester City and Chelsea.

Just in case you needed reminding, with the scores at 0-0, 30 minutes into extra-time, Spanish shot-stopper Kepa Arizzabalaga seemed to have taken a knock. This prompted a response from Sarri, who got his substitute goalkeeper Willy Caballero ready to come on for him, but Kepa refused to come off with penalties looming.

After a few minutes of confusion and Sarri shouting at his number one, Kepa got his way and stayed on the pitch. Sarri then stormed off down the tunnel in dismay having lost the war of words with his own player. Chelsea went on to lose on penalties 4-3, with Kepa not even coming close to saving one of City's penalties.

It was scenes we've never seen before in English football, never mind in a cup final.

City v Sunderland, 2014 - Toure’s thunderbolt

League Cup finals bring up famous moments every now and then, but in the midst of this, some incredible goals get forgotten about too.

After Sunderland took the lead in the 2014 final, Manuel Pellegrini’s men needed a response. Up stepped Toure, who strolled up to a pass way outside the box to whip it right into the far corner in a fashion we'd rarely only see the great curlers of the ball like David Beckham deliver.

The magnificent strike put City on their way to a win, with Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas completing the turnaround, but Toure's ridiculous strike stole the show.

Arsenal v Swindon, 1969 - Fairytale for Swindon

Many associate the FA Cup as the competition that sees all the giant killings and shock results, but the League Cup has demonstrated its fair share of huge upsets, none more so than when third division side Swindon Town defied the odds in 1969.

The mighty Arsenal were a First Division side that had many big names in their team, challenging at the top of the league in which they would finish the season fourth. It was no surprise then that Bertie Mee’s team were strong favourites to beat the team two divisions below them.

Of course, that wasn’t the case though, and Swindon’s first ever Wembley appearance got off to a magical start when they took the lead after 35 minutes, but it was heartbreak initially for the Robins after an 86-minute equaliser sent it to extra-time. However, two extra-time goals from Don Rogers saw Swindon pull off a shock 3-1 win and lift their first and only ever major trophy. A flu bug and the state of the Wembley pitch were reasons cited by Arsenal for the upset, but nevertheless you can’t take away a historic giant-killing as one of the greatest cup moments ever.

Arsenal v Luton, 1988 - Luton shock the Gunners

There was another upset involving Arsenal, when they were expected to win the cup in 1988 after winning it the year before. It wasn’t quite as big of a gap to their opponents as Swindon with Luton in the top-tier, but Arsenal’s all-star side were clear favourites after beating the league champions, Everton, home and away in the semi-final.

The Hatters took the lead early before the Gunners turned the game around in the space of three minutes with a quickfire double. The trophy looked to be Arsenal’s again, when Nigel Winterburn had the chance to give his side a two-goal cushion, but his penalty was saved by Andy Dibble. Then a Gus Caesar slip allowed the underdogs to capitalise and equalize in the 82nd minute, before a dramatic 90th-minute winner to give Luton their first-ever major trophy.

It was a truly remarkable final that epitomises cup football, seeing the underdog prevail in a wonderful game.

Arsenal v Birmingham, 2011 - Another almighty upset for the Gunenrs

More than 20 years after than the 1988 disappointment, Arsenal were yet again on the receiving end of a stunning League Cup final shock upset when they met Birmingham City in 2011’s final.

A thrilling game saw Robin van Persie’s brilliant volley cancel out a Nikola Zigic goal to make it all even at half time. After a second half where Arsenal showed their superiority, forcing a man of the match performance from Birmingham keeper Ben Foster, it was Alex McLeish’s side who stole the win in the dying minutes.

A disastrous defensive mix-up between Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and defender Laurent Koscielny saw Obafemi Martins pounce and send Birmingham fans into ecstasy. His goal snatched the win for the underdogs in one of the biggest upsets in recent cup final history.

Swansea v Bradford, 2013 - Bradford reach the final

The 2013 League Cup final was historic in many ways. It saw Bradford become the first fourth-tier team since Rochdale in 1962 to reach the final, whilst it also witnessed Swansea become the first and only team to win the League Cup who were not from England and the first non-English side to win a trophy in England since Cardiff won the FA Cup in 1927.

The Bantams had defied the odds to reach the final, beating not one, but three Premier League teams on their road to their Wembley showdown with the Swans. The West Yorkshire outfit beat Wigan on penalties in the fourth round, then claimed a huge scalp in Arsenal on penalties in the fifth round, before getting the better of Aston Villa over two legs in the semis.

Despite this, on the big Wembley pitch, Bradford were expected to meet their maker and they ended up being thrashed 5-0 in the final.

If you bet on Swansea and Cardiff to meet in the final that year, you would have got quite the turnover.

Spurs v Leicester, 1999 - Nielsen’s last-minute winner

A last-minute winning goal is up there with one of the greatest feelings a football fan can experience. It’s even more special when it turns out to be the winning goal in a cup final.

That was the case for Tottenham fans in 1999 after a hard-fought tie against Leicester looked to be heading to extra time after a goalless game. Then in the second of three added minutes, a driving Steffen Iversen ran into the box and a shot saw Kasey Keller in the Leicester goal palm it out to where Allan Nielsen rose with a diving header to stoop in and score the dramatic late winner, seeing the Spurs fans in the old Wembley erupt.

After a tight affair that involved a red card for Spurs’ Justin Edinburgh following a coming together with Robbie Savage, it was a jubilant ending for the north London contingent and their fans thanks to a euphoric last-gasp goal from Nielsen.

Chelsea v Liverpool, 2005 - Mourinho shushes the Liverpool fans

No manager has won more League Cups than Jose Mourinho, and it was his very first cup win that produced one of the most memorable moments that introduced the English game to the box-office boss.

The Portuguese manager’s first-ever trophy in English football came after a 3-2 win over Liverpool in 2005, but it was his touchline antics that stole the show. After his side levelled through a Steven Gerrard own goal in the 80th minute, the Chelsea manager walked towards the Reds fans and put his finger to his lips, shushing the Liverpool fans in true Mourinho fashion.

"The Special One" was then sent off and forced to watch his team from the television as they went on to win 3-2 in extra time. It was a remarkable moment as one of the greatest managers in English football history introduced himself with a trademark Jose jibe.

Arsenal v Chelsea, 2007 - Arsenal and Chelsea scrap it out

Not all iconic League Cup final moments have been goals or upsets. One example is the feisty affair between Arsenal and Chelsea in 2007, which provided one of the best League Cup finals down to its sheer entertainment. The game was so enthralling that an additional 11 minutes were played at the Millennium Stadium, seeing Chelsea eventually emerge victorious in a 2-1 win.

One of the big moments saw Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby nearly take off John Terry’s head when the Chelsea defender went in for a header from a corner and was met by the Frenchman’s high boot, putting the Blues skipper in hospital.

There were a massive 10 bookings in the contest, with three of them being red cards in the sixth minute of injury time at the end of the game, when a coming together between John Obi-Mikel and Kolo Toure resulted in a melee of players, managers and substitutes all going at it on the pitch. It capped off a modern classic that will go down as one of the most aggressive cup finals.

Spurs v Chelsea, 2008 - Woodgate’s winner for Spurs

The decisive goal in a cup final can come from anywhere, and that was the case in 2008’s final between Chelsea and Spurs. Didier Drogba’s first half freekick was cancelled out by Dimitar Berbatov’s cool penalty as the teams entered extra-time.

Then, four minutes into the first half, a Jermaine Jenas free kick was whipped into the box from deep. It resulted in a calamitous punch by Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal that ricocheted off a leaping Woodgate’s head and into the back of the net.

As for as cup final goals go, it won’t be making the list in terms of quality of the strike, but whether he knew anything about it or not, it was a goal to saviour for the former Real Madrid defender that scored an unlikely goal to give his team a League Cup trophy.

By Jordan Edmonds


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