No. 21 – The 2001 FA Cup Final
The 2001 FA Cup Final makes it in at Number 21 in our Days We’ll Remember all our Lives countdown…. In our classic match section, “RMP” took a walk down memory lane for a classic match from the incredible ‘treble’ winning season of 2001…
Two English giants lined up in a FA Cup final for their first encounter in a final since 1971 which Arsenal won 2-1 after extra time. It was the first Cup final to be held outside of England, at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. These two team were only separated by one point in the final League table, Arsenal finishing second with seventy points and Liverpool finishing third with sixty-nine points.
Arsenal had a very successful run leading to the finals. Beating the likes of Blackburn and Chelsea. They had to come back from behind to beat their city rivals Tottenham to secure their place in the finals. Liverpool probably had it easier than Arsenal facing simpler teams like Rotherham Utd & Man City although they faced the ever impressive Leeds beating them 2-0 at Elland Road. They played Wycombe where a Heskey & Fowler strikers were just enough to send them off to their first final since their disappointing lost to Man Utd in 1996.
The Millennium Stadium was packed to capacity with both sets of fans coming out in their numbers to cheer on their heroes. Arsenal were dressed in their traditional red and white kit which forced Liverpool in their gold and blue away kit.
The Managers had a to sort their best team which saw Dennis Bergkamp and Robbie Fowler reduced to the bench. Which means Michael Owen and Emile Heskey pairing up and Henry and Sylvain Wiltord in the Arsenal attack.
The first major highlight saw Heskey going to ground after a tackle from Grimandi however all penalty appeals were declined by referee Steve Dunn. Arsenal soon had their own penalty appeal turned away when Henry beat the Liverpool goalkeeper only to be denied by Henchoz at the goal line, replay clearly showed that the officials were wrong and that Henchoz made contact with the ball with his arm.
Arsenal had a great deal of possession in the first half due to Liverpool applying the counter-attack tactics. Although Arsenal had possession they were unable to score and left the teams deadlock at half time.
After the break Liverpool had the first real chance when Heskey made a great effort to head the ball but it was saved by the legendary David Seaman. Henry made good use of the ball when he made his way past the Liverpool defense and again beating Westerveld and shot the ball at goal only to be saved by the Liverpool center-back Sami Hyypia on the goal-line.
The Liverpool captain was again to the rescue when he made another goal-line saved when his head met the ball of a Ljungberg lob. There was no Hyypia this time when Pires played the ball to teammate Ljungberg beating Westerveld and scoring leaving Liverpool one nil down with 20 minutes left on the clock. Arsenal should have won the match when Henry was denied by a magnificent save by Westerveld leaving Liverpool with a chance to sneak in a late equaliser.
Arsenal conceded a free-kick which changed the match when Michael Owen ambushed the Arsenal goal leveling the match with eight minutes left on the clock. Then a moment of magic which left Arsenal fans heartbroken when Berger sent Owen on a run beating the Arsenal defenders and putting the ball in the back of the net.
In the Kop Treasures feature on TIA, Ste Speed also retold his memories from that magical day….
“It was the week when Liverpool completed the historic treble of trophies, it started with the ‘˜Owen Final’ and ended with the clinching of a Champions League spot at Charlton.
I watched the FA Cup Final against Arsenal at a barbecue being held at the house of family friends of my best mate Pat. It was gloriously sunny outside on that Saturday, has there ever been an FA Cup Final played without sunshine? It was the first Cup final to be held outside of England, at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. These two team were only separated by one point in the final League table, Arsenal finishing second with seventy points and Liverpool finishing third with sixty-nine points.
Unfortunately these family friends were quite a reserved lot, unlike me and Pat, so it was difficult getting any atmosphere from them during the game. I don’t recall a great deal about the first eighty two minutes except for the Henchoz handball, the Ljunberg goal and the fact we got absolutely pasted beyond belief including us clearing off the line a couple of times.
The game looked dead and buried, we were creating absolutely nothing and heads were going down fast. Then we got a free kick and when Gary McAllister stepped up to take it we sensed something magic about to happen. McAllister was in the middle of an unbelievable spell of goals and man of the match performances at the end of that season. Starting with the last second winner in the derby, he seemed to score the winner in a series of important one nil wins against Bradford, Coventry and most importantly Barcelona in the UEFA Cup semi final.
The free kick was knocked in an Arsenal defender headed the ball into the air it bounced off Babbel and fell in an amazing position to the one man you would bet your house on to score. Pat and I went absolutely berserk, our hosts were clearly happy and excited but managed to maintain their dignity as Pat and I jumped all over the furniture almost landing on people’s heads!
We managed to compose ourselves and sit back down for the restart just hoping we wouldn’t blow it and hang on for extra time. We barely had time to discuss the goal when Berger hit a long ball over Arsenal‘s midfield. We saw Owen sprinting onto it but clearly Adams and Dixon easily had him covered. How wrong we were as the entire season flashed before our eyes when the ball crept past Seaman and into the corner of the net.”
“Oh my god, the house went insane as Pat and I burst out the patio doors and into the garden, shirts flying in the air in our dance of jubilation.
Lovely moment as Fowler and Hyypia invited club captain Jamie Redknapp, out injured long term, down onto the pitch to help lift the trophy. I remember his dad Harry, was commentating on BBC at the time and he had tears in his eyes at the moment, as did we. Incredible scenes that never seemed to end as the music was blasted the cans of ale were cracked open and the party just went on and on.”
Team: Westerveld, Babbel, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Murphy (77), Gerrard, Hamann (60) , Smicer (77), Heskey, Owen.
Subs: Fowler (77), Berger (77), Arphexad, McAllister (60), Vignal