Liverpool 3-3 West Ham (Liverpool win 3-1 on penalties)
FA Cup Final 13th May 2005, Millennium Stadium
Battle of the entertainers
The English FA cup is the oldest cup competition in world football. The final of 2006 was one of the most exciting and thrilling matches in recent history. It was contested between Liverpool and West Ham United, both clubs with a tradition of playing entertaining football. This game certainly maintained those traditions.
Goals galore from Liverpool
Liverpool were a fine team captained by Steven Gerrard and managed by Rafa Benitez. They had won the Champions League the previous season, beating AC Milan in dramatic fashion in the final.
They had finished in the top four of the Premier League and so qualified for the Champions League again. Winning the FA cup would complete a successful season for the Merseysiders, and give Benitez two major trophies in his first two years as manager.
They had survived a difficult route to the final, beating Chelsea and Manchester United on the way. Their cup run also included a 7-0 victory over Birmingham and a Xabi Alonso goal from inside his own half in a 5-3 win over Luton.
Hammers on the crest of a wave
West Ham had a team made up predominantly of young English talent.
Their manager was Alan Pardew and they possessed a team with great pace and energy in the likes of Nigel Reo-Coker, Matty Etherington and Marlon Harewood.
The Hammers’ fans had been enjoying somewhat of a rollercoaster ride in recent seasons. They followed relegation in 2004 by bouncing straight back up in 2005 after winning the play-offs with Bobby Zamora scoring the winner in the final.
In the 2005/6 season they achieved a top half finish in the Premier League and reached the FA cup final. It was certainly an exciting time to be a West Ham fan.
Benitez names strong team
Liverpool had a fine squad of players for Benitez to pick from and he sent out a starting eleven of Jose ‘Pepe’ Reina in goal, Steve Finnan, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia and John Arne Riise in defence.
In midfield; Mohammed Sissoko, Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Harry Kewell, with Djibril Cisse and Peter Crouch up front.
It was one of the best teams in the country and they also had Fernando Morientes, Dietmar Hamann and Jerzy Dudek amongst their substitutes.
Attacking options for West Ham
The team for West Ham was Shaka Hislop in goal, in defence they had Lionel Scaloni, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon and Paul Konchesky.
Carl Fletcher, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun and Matty Etherington made up the four man midfield and Dean Ashton was partnered by Marlon Harewood in attack.
Experienced striker Teddy Sheringham was on the bench alongside Bobby Zamora as the attacking alternatives.
Carragher puts Hammers ahead
The game was played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff as the new Wembley was not yet completed after the old stadium had been knocked down.
West Ham started the game well and pressed Liverpool at a high tempo. They gained the upper hand on 21 minutes when Jamie Carragher turned the ball into his own net.
Dean Ashton played a well weighted pass down the right wing. Scaloni ran onto it and drilled a low cross across the face of the goal.
Carragher tried to cut the ball out but it came at him too quickly for him to sort his feet out, and he put it past Reina into the goal.
Ashton makes it two
West Ham doubled their lead just a few minutes later. Etherington got into the box and struck a low shot that Reina failed to hold.
Ashton pounced on the loose ball and managed to squeeze a shot under the Liverpool goalkeeper into the goal.
West Ham fans couldn’t believe it. Their team, who just twelve months ago were in the Championship, now led the European champions 2-0 in the FA cup final.
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