Liverpool v Arsenal
Two English giants lined up in a FA Cup final for their 1st encounter in a final ever since 1971 which Arsenal won 2-1 after extra time.
It was the 1st Cup final to be held beyond England, at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. These 2 team were just separated by one point in the final League table, Arsenal accomplishing 2nd with seventy points and Liverpool finishing 3rd with sixty-nine points.
Arsenal had a very successful run resulting in the finals. Beating the likes of Blackburn and Chelsea. They had to return from behind to beat their city competitors Tottenham to secure their spot in the finals. Liverpool perhaps had it easier than Arsenal facing easier teams like Rotherham Utd & Man City although they dealt with the ever excellent Leeds beating them 2-0 at Elland Road. They played Wycombe where a Heskey & Fowler strikers were simply enough to send them off to their very first final considering that their disappointing lost to Man Utd in 1996.
The Millennium Stadium was loaded 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 required Liverpool in their gold and blue away kit.
The Managers had a to sort their finest lineup which saw Dennis Bergkamp and Robbie Fowler reduced to the bench. Which implies Michael Owen and Emile Heskey pairing and Henry and Sylvain Wiltord in the Arsenal attack.
The first event of note took place after 6 minutes, when Emile Heskey fell to ground under a challenge from Gunners' defender Gilles Grimandi in the box. Referee Steve Dunn waved away the penalty protests, however Arsenal fans were next to be felt hard-done by as the referee and his assistant, Kevin Pike failed to find a clear- albeit apparently unintentional- handball from Stephane Henchoz, after a Thierry Henry shot hit his outstretched arm on the line. Thierry Henry missed out on 2 other good chances as Arsenal failed to turn their substantial ownership into goals. Liverpool soaked up Arsenal's play and launched quick counter-attacks with the goal of launching the pacey Michael Owen in advance. Sami Hyypia had a particularly exceptional game at the back, clearing no less than 3 Arsenal shots off the line, assisting to keep the tie goalless for the bulk of the match.
Arsenal had a great deal of ownership in the first half due to Liverpool applying the counter-attack methods. Altough Arsenal had possession they were on able to score and left the teams deadlock at half time.
When Heskey made a fantastic effort to head the ball but it was saved by the legendary David Seaman, after the break Liverpool had the first real opportunity. Henry made good use of the ball when he made his was past the Liverpool defense and once again beating the Westerveld with shooting the ball at goal just to be saved by the Liverpool centre-back Sami Hyypia on the goal-line.
When he made another goal-line saved when his head satisfied the ball of a Ljungberg lob, the Liverpool captain was again to the rescue. When Pires played the ball to teammate Ljungberg beating Westerveld and scoring leaving Liverpool one nil down with 20 minutes left on the clock, there was no Hyypia this time. Arsenal must have won the match when Henry was denied by a splendid save by Westerveld leaving Liverpool with a chance to sneak in a late equaliser.
Arsenal conceded a free-kick which altered the match when Michael Owen ambush 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.
Liverpool captain Jamie Redknapp had actually been out for the majority of the season with a long-term injury. Nevertheless he was welcomed to lift the trophy with the group in addition to stand-in captain, Sami Hyypia.
Arsenal were left ruing missed chances and Liverpool commemorating a popular FA Cup finals and en route to a cup treble.