London: Prior to Saturday’s Wembley showdown between Manchester United and Crystal Palace, AFP Sport recalls five classic FA Cup final goals:
Ricky Villa (Tottenham Hotspur 3 Manchester City 2, 1981)
The most famous FA Cup final goal of all, Ricky Villa’s soft-shoe shuffle through the Manchester City defence is one of the most iconic images associated with the old Wembley Stadium. After a 1-1 draw in the first game, the score was locked at 2-2 in the replay when Villa, who had already scored earlier in the match, picked up the ball in the inside-left channel, 35 yards from goal. The straggly-haired Argentine tiptoed his way into the area, through a pack of defenders, before cutting inside and slotting a low shot past Joe Corrigan to send the cup to White Hart Lane.
Norman Whiteside (Manchester United 1 Everton 0, 1985)
On a baking May afternoon at Wembley, the final was deep into extra time and looked to be heading to a replay when a pass from Mark Hughes found Whiteside in space on the right flank. His legs heavy, his socks beginning to slip, the Northern Irish midfielder edged into the penalty area, using defender Pat Van Den Hauwe to shield the ball from the sightline of goalkeeper Neville Southall, before throwing a quick step-over and bending a devastating shot into the bottom-left corner with his left foot.
Keith Houchen (Coventry City 3 Tottenham Hotspur 2, 1987)
Tottenham defender Garry Mabbutt’s own goal gave Coventry the cup, but it is for Houchen’s 62nd-minute header that the game is best remembered. After laying the ball off to Dave Bennett on the right wing, the English striker surged into the box to meet his team-mate’s cross with a picture-book diving header. The goal took the game to extra time and Mabbutt obligingly did the rest.
Ray Parlour (Arsenal 2 Chelsea 0, 2002)
Arsenal were being held by London rivals Chelsea at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium when Parlour raced onto a pass from Sylvain Wiltord in the 70th minute. The danger appeared to have passed as the shaggy-haired English midfielder allowed Chelsea’s defenders to get into position, but after shifting the ball onto his right foot he curled a glorious shot into the top-right corner from 25 yards. Freddie Ljungberg made it 2-0 with 10 minutes remaining and four days later, Arsenal beat Manchester United at Old Trafford to complete the Double.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool 3 West Ham United 3; Liverpool win 3-1 on penalties, 2006)
The last FA Cup final goal to be scored at the Millennium Stadium — used as an alternative venue during the construction of the new Wembley — was fittingly one of the best in the competition’s history. Twelve months on from their astonishing comeback to defeat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final, Liverpool trailed West Ham 3-2 as injury time approached when a loose ball fell to Gerrard and he unleashed a sublime 35-yard shot into the bottom-left corner to claim his second goal of the afternoon. Liverpool won on penalties and their captain ended the day with another trophy in his arms.