Top 5 FA Cup finals of all time

Chelsea won an interesting final against Leeds United
Chelsea won an interesting final against Leeds United
Neelabhra Roy

Only minutes are left before the 2018 FA Cup final kicks off. The final is expected to be an interesting battle between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley as both sides look to end the season with a trophy.

Manchester United reached the final with a 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley while Chelsea beat Southampton 2-0 to reach the final.

So far, a total of 136 FA Cup finals have been played. There have been numerous close encounters in many finals but 5 finals stand out from the rest. So without any further ado, let's take a look at the top 5 FA Cup finals of all time.

Honorable Mentions: The 1981 FA Cup final between Tottenham Hotspur (3) and Manchester City (2), the 1988 FA Cup final between Wimbledon (1) and Liverpool (0) and 2001 FA Cup final between Liverpool (2) and Arsenal (1).

#5 1970: Chelsea vs Leeds United (2-1)

The final of the 1970 FA Cup was held between Chelsea and Leeds United who were two of England's strongest teams that season, ending second and third in the League respectively.

Both teams were brilliant throughout the tournament. Chelsea reached their third FA Cup final by thrashing Watford 5-0 in the semi-final. Leeds were in their second FA Cup final by defeating Manchester United 1-0 in the second replay of the semi-final.

The final was held at Wembley and a crowd of 100,000 had assembled to witness it. In the 20th minute, Leeds defender Jack Charlton headed downwards from a corner which did not bounce on the muddy Wembley pitch. However, Chelsea left-back Eddie McCreadie's clearance attempt was mistimed and he deflected the ball in the goal and Leeds were up 1-0.

During the end of half-time, Chelsea equalised as midfielder Peter Houseman shot low from 20 yards and his shot rolled below the body of Leeds goalie Gary Sprake.

Six minutes before full-time, Leeds striker Allan Clarke's header hit the post but his teammate Mick Jones scored from the rebound to restore the lead for Leeds. However, Ian Hutchinson equalised for Chelsea from a cross in the 86th minute.

No more goals were scored and the score remained 2-2 at the end of extra time. At the time, penalties weren't introduced, so the final would be replayed.

The replay was played at Old Trafford and turned out to be one of the most physical clashes in English football history.

The match official Eric Jennings who was in his final season as a referee, allowed both sides to play rough and played the advantage numerous times.

A few minutes into the game, Chelsea's Ron Harris caught Leeds' Eddie Gray with a kick at the back of the knee.

This had an adverse effect on Gray for the rest of the match. There were plenty of physical moments in the game as Norman Hunter and Ian Hutchinson exchanged punches while Eddie McCreadie gave a flying kick to Leeds skipper Billy Bremner.

In a tussle with Mick Jones, Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Bonetti got injured. Minutes later, Jones shot past a limping Bonetti to give Leeds the lead.

Chelsea equalised when Peter Osgood scored with a diving header from a Charlie Cooke cross.

Osgood thus became the ninth and till date, the last player to have scored in every round of the FA Cup.

The match eventually went to extra time. During the 104th minute, Chelsea were awarded a throw-in.

Ian Hutchinson threw the ball towards the penalty area and a Leeds defender's header deflected the ball towards David Webb who headed in the ball to give Chelsea a 2-1 lead.

Chelsea could have made it 3-1 towards the end of extra-time but Hutchinson's goal was ruled offside.

Eventually, Chelsea won the replay 2-1 to win their maiden FA Cup title. However, the replay will always be remembered for its immense physicality.

When referee David Elleray reviewed the match in 1997, he said that 20 yellow cards and six red cards should have been issued compared to the one yellow card that was issued.

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Edited by Alan John
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