Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

In Pictures: The ten best League Cup finals

1967: QPR 3 West Brom 2 
Although the tournament began in the 1960-61 season, this was the first time it culminated in a one-off Wembley showpiece, previous finals having been held over two legs. It was a fitting match for the venue which had hosted the World Cup final a year earlier. The match was seemingly over at half-time with Third Division QPR 2-0 down to top-flight West Brom. But three goals in 20 second-half minutes, including a wonderful solo effort from Rodney Marsh, ensured the underdogs roared back to become the first Third Division side to win a major trophy.
1967: QPR 3 West Brom 2
Although the tournament began in the 1960-61 season, this was the first time it culminated in a one-off Wembley showpiece, previous finals having been held over two legs. It was a fitting match for the venue which had hosted the World Cup final a year earlier. The match was seemingly over at half-time with Third Division QPR 2-0 down to top-flight West Brom. But three goals in 20 second-half minutes, including a wonderful solo effort from Rodney Marsh, ensured the underdogs roared back to become the first Third Division side to win a major trophy.
2005: Chelsea 3 Liverpool 2
The two managers, Rafael Benitez and Jose Mourinho, went into this final at the Millennium Stadium looking for their first piece of silverware at their new clubs. And despite contests between the big-boys often failing to live up to expectations, this one got off to a great start; After just 42 seconds John Arne Riise had put Liverpool ahead. The contest looked to be going Liverpool's way until their captain, Steven Gerrard, headed into his own net with 10 minutes to go. Mourinho's reaction to the goal was to put his finger to his lips, with a gesture that suggested the Liverpool fans "quiet down". The game went to extra-time and goals from Didier Drogba and Mateja Kezman were enough to secure Mourinho his first title in England. Antonio Nunez did hit back for Liverpool but it wasn't enough for the Reds.
1969: Swindon Town 3 Arsenal 1
Swindon's victory over the Gunners is considered one of the greatest upsets in the history of the League Cup. They went into the match as massive underdogs, playing their football two divisions below First Division Arsenal. When the game got underway it took a predictable course, with the Gunners dominating the match. But against the run of play Roger Smart of Swindon opened the scoring. Bobby Gould equalised for Arsenal with just four minutes of the match remaining, but an inspired keeping performance by Peter Downsborough meant Swindon took the game to extra time. It was then that Don Rogers made his name, scoring two goals and clinching Swindon's first and only major Cup triumph.
1961: Rotherham United 2 Aston Villa 3
The inaugural League Cup final was contested between Rotherham and Villa, with the game played over two legs. Rotherham took full advantage in the first-leg at Millmoore, winning the match 2-0 thanks to goals from Barry Webster and Alan Kirkman. But this weekend's finalists were to storm back at Villa Park and be the first to have their name engraved on the cup. Incidentally, due to fixture congestion, the second-leg wasn't played until after the start of the 1961/62 season - meaning Villa began their defence of the Cup just eight days after winning it.
2000: Leicester 2 Tranmere 1
The last League Cup final to be played at the old Wembley was also Leicester's third final appearance in four years. Lining up to take on Tranmere (who had never made it to a major final before) the fixture pitted two traditionally unsuccessful teams against one another. Leicester took the lead in the brutally direct match. Matt Elliot (right) rose to head home a Steve Guppy cross. The battle of a match was to spill over when Clint Hill of Tranmere was sent off for two bookable offences. But First Division Tranmere weren't to be undone, and equalised in the 77th minute. A fairytale looked on the cards until a carbon copy of the first goal saw Leicester lift the trophy and manager Martin O'Neill (left) boost his reputation even further.
1988: Luton 3 Arsenal 2
Two goals in the last 10 minutes and an inspired performance from goalkeeper Andy Dibble gave Luton their first major honour. Arsenal found themselves a goal down after just 13 minutes thanks to Brian Stein's goal, but the defending champions turned things around in the second half with a quickfire double. However, Dibble kept out Martin Hayes, Michael Thomas and David Rocastle before saving a Nigel Winterburn penalty. Danny Wilson then levelled before Stein grabbed his second and the winner (pictured) in the final minute.
1976: Manchester City 2 Newcastle 1
This match is remembered for Dennis Tueart's winner, one of the classic League Cup final goals. Teenager Peter Barnes gave City an early lead (pictured) but Alan Gowling levelled before half-time. The best was still to come though as Tueart latched onto Tommy Booth's header across goal and scored with a glorious overhead kick. Tueart later described the strike as the best of his career.
1993: Arsenal 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1
This was the first of two cup finals between the sides that season and is probably best remembered for the post-match celebrations. Wednesday took an early and unexpected lead through United States international John Harkes, but Paul Merson equalised soon after. Merson then set up Steve Morrow to score the winner - what should have been the finest moment in the defender's career. However, Morrow was dropped (pictured) by an over-exuberant Tony Adams as the Gunners celebrated their win, meaning Morrow missed the FA Cup final.
1991: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Manchester United 0
Manchester United, the then FA Cup holders, were the strong favourites going into the final. Playing a Wednesday side a division below them and lining up with the likes of Mark Hughes, Bryan Robson and Paul Ince among their ranks, few betted against Alex Ferguson's side. Yet the only goal of the game came through Irishman John Sheridan (left) and the Owls grabbed their first League Cup title. That year the trophy was presented by Rumbelows employee of the year Tracy Bateman. It was the only year that the electronics retailer sponsored the cup.
2007: Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger kept faith with the 'Young Gunners', essentially the reserve team, who had taken the club to the final - and it almost paid dividends. Arsenal's outfield players had an average age of under 21 and they dominated for large periods with some thrilling football, Theo Walcott putting them ahead after 12 minutes with his first goal for the club. But Didier Drogba equalised eight minutes later and grabbed a second late on to hand the trophy to Chelsea. John Terry was taken to hospital after receiving a boot in the face, but discharged himself in time to celebrate with his team-mates.

This Sunday at Wembley, Manchester United take on Aston Villa in the Carling Cup final.

>> Click on the image to launch our guide.

Since its inception in 1961, and its many guises (Milk Cup, Coca-Cola Cup, Rumbelows Cup), the competition has provided numerous classic finals.

As we keep our fingers crossed for another belter at Wembley this weekend, we remember the ten best League Cup finals.

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