The FA Cup is widely considered as England’s grandest domestic cup competition, and there have been many goals befitting the occasion. This is particularly the case when it comes to cup finals.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the FA Cup. The third round gets underway this weekend, which officially marks the start of the involvement of Premier League clubs. So, with that in mind, let’s chronicle six of the most defining strikes in the history of the competition.
Roberto Di Matteo’s lightning-quick start (1997)
This was one of the most memorable strikes, and it arrived in the FA Cup Final. Chelsea were overwhelming favourites against Premiership strugglers Middlesbrough, and they got off to the best possible start thanks to Roberto Di Matteo.
After taking the ball down from his chest, the charismatic Italian midfielder unleashed a ferocious strike from 30 yards that clipped the underside of the crossbar before nestling in the net. Middlesbrough goalkeeper Ben Roberts couldn’t get a hand on the ball despite being rooted to his line, and the Blues were ahead after a mere 45 seconds.
Di Matteo’s strike set the tone, and Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners. 25 years on, and this strike is still being talked about!
The Michael Owen Final (2001)
The 2001 showpiece at the Millennium Stadium (now Principality Stadium) is often referred to as the ‘Michael Owen Final’, and rightly so. Liverpool were staring down the barrel of defeat against Arsenal, but that was until Owen intervened.
After equalising with an acrobatic effort in the 83rd minute, Owen produced a sumptuous winner. Latching onto a Patrick Berger pass over the top, Owen outfoxed Tony Adams and Lee Dixon before sending a searing left-footed effort past David Seaman into the corner of the net. It was an incredible season for the Reds, who completed the second leg of a unique treble in Cardiff, as they won the League Cup, FA Cup, and the UEFA Cup.
Steven Gerrard belter (2006)
Steven Gerrard was usually the man of the moment during his decorated Anfield career. He was the type of player that scored many defining goals, and his strike against West Ham in the FA Cup final in 2006 merits a place on this list.
Liverpool were 3-2 down, with the game about to enter injury time at the end of the second half. And from over 30 yards out, Gerrard hammered home a volley that sent the game into penalties. The rest is history, as Liverpool went on to lift their seventh FA Cup.
Ray Parlour screamer (2002)
Arsenal are one of the most decorated teams in the FA Cup, and they have contributed significantly to the competition’s history. The 2002 FA Cup Final produced one of the most memorable moments.
Against Chelsea, Parlour found himself 25 yards from goal, and he caressed a stunning volley into the top corner of the net. The ‘Romford Pele’ as he was more affectionately known may have only scored 22 goals in his entire career, but it was probably one of his best strikes, and in the context of the FA Cup, it was worth its weight in gold.
Roy Essandoh’s late show (2001)
Wycombe may seem like a relative minnow in the history of the FA Cup, but in 2001, they reached the semi-final at the expense of Leicester. Although Muzzy Izzet brought the Foxes back into the game, Roy Essandoh was Wycombe’s hero.
Coming on as a second-half substitute, Essandoh headed home from close range to send the travelling supporters into raptures. However, it was a bittersweet day for Wycombe boss Lawrie Sanchez, who was sent to the stands by referee Steve Bennett following an altercation over a penalty appeal that was turned down.
Ricky Villa’s mesmerising solo effort (1981)
If there’s one player that is inextricably linked to the FA Cup, then it is Tottenham legend Ricky Villa. Back in the day, FA Cup finals used to go to replays. And while some of the goals on this list relied more upon sheer power, this was a strike that was more defined by its elegance.
After picking up the ball 40 yards from the goals, Villa embarked on a mazy run, twisting and turning, before he tucked home his effort under the onrushing Joe Corrigan. It is a goal you could watch time and time again!
Keep your eyes peeled
As mentioned, the FA Cup third round gets underway, and so you can expect a glut of goals. There could be some serious contenders for goals of the round, and perhaps there may be a few upsets along the way.
Liverpool are hosting Shrewsbury on Sunday, and Bet365 are offering a juicy price of 18/1 for the Shrews to cause an upset. Meanwhile, the same bookmaker is offering odds of 3/10 for Over 2.5 goals. Meanwhile, in terms of the outright markets, you can get a price of 25/1 with Betfred for Everton to win the FA Cup. The Toffees last lifted the trophy in 1995.