Top 10 FA Cup semi-finals

Featuring a new contributor to The Coin Toss, please check out Unibet’s Top 10 FA Cup Semi-Final clashes from down the years.

Ah, the magic of the FA Cup! With more shocks than a electricians’ convention, more surprises than the end of Eastenders and more upsets than…well you get the point. But over the 142 years that the world’s favourite cup competition has been a thing, we have been treated to some spectacular clashes.

And as this year’s FA Cup semi-finals roll around, we dig out some of the best last-four ding-dongs there have ever been. Get the rattles out! Clack-clack-clack-clack-clack!

10. Portsmouth 2 Tottenham 0, 2010

Not a classic match by any stretch of the imagination, but the directions both teams have taken since could not be more different. Spurs have risen to a Champions League spot with whispers of a chance at the Premier League title. Pompey on the other hand, have crumbled to the brink of financial ruin and could find themselves in the third tier of English football for the first time in more than a decade next season.

But on this day in 2010 it was the south coasters who took the plaudits, with goals from Frederic Piquionne and moon-walking midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng. It was certainly a shock, as Spurs had been expected to walk it, especially as Pompey were already on their way to relegation to the Championship having been handed a nine point deduction for being broke as hell.

They lost the final to league winners Chelsea and have not been seen since, save for lots of court apperances.

9. Crystal Palace 2 Manchester United 2, 1995

Five years after they had contested one of the most exciting FA Cup finals for some time, the Eagles and Red Devils met again for a semi-final at Villa Park. Palace were back in the Premier League having been relegated in 1993 but bounced straight back a year later, while United were battling it out with Blackburn for the league title. A battle they would ultimately lose.

But there was a darker side to the clash. It was just weeks after Eric Cantona had leapt into the Selhurst Park crowd, studs first, to give Palace fan Matthew Simmons his own style of retribution, and the unrest between the sets of fans continued to the Midlands, where Eagles supporter Paul Nixon was killed after fans clashed.

To the game, though, where Palace showed little of their league struggle to lead United twice through Chris Coleman and Iain Dowie but were twice pegged back and, like in 1990, lost the replay. They also went down that year despite finishing fourth from bottom as the top two league’s were rejigged. Unlucky.

8. Brighton 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1, 1983

“And Smith must score!” That line was actually from the final of the same year when Gordon Smith had just Gary Bailey to beat in the Manchester United goal with the game finely poised at 2-2 but couldn’t and United ran out 4-0 winners in the replay. The immortal words of radio commentator Peter Jones rung in Albion ears for years after, their only cup final, having not been beyond the fifth round before, and was the inspiration for a fanzine also.

But back to the semi-final where they faced Jack Charlton’s Sheffield Wednesday and were in fact soon to be relegated from the top flight. But it mattered not and instead of consolidating for survival, they went hell for leather at the Owls, with Jimmy Case opening the scoring thanks to a thunderbolt 35-yard free-kick.

Albion manager ‘Disco’ Jimmy Melia danced across the pitch at the final whistle – he got his nickname from his Saturday Night Fever style white shoes – and Brighton were in dreamland. Until the final replay, and subsequent relegation. Oh well.

7. Manchester United 2 Liverpool 2 (AET), 1985

Before the days of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard there was Bryan Robson. What? The old guy whose managerial career has flopped more than clocks in a Salvadore Dali painting, I hear you cry. Yes, that man indeed. You see, before he looked like a stand-in teacher on the touchline, Robson owned football. No, really, he totally owned it. Alex Ferguson dubbed him one of the best players he ever managed, and no-one argues with him.

In 1985 Manchester United were a one-man team and that man was Robson. In the first tie of the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool Captain Marvell (that was Robson by the way not some camp 80s superhero) gave the Red Devils the lead, only for Ronnie Whelan to cancel it out and take the game to extra-time. Frank Stapleton restored United’s lead but Paul Walsh tapped home later on to take it to a replay.

The replay was all Robson. He scored the equaliser just after half-time with a delicious 25-yard curler, effortlessly swept into the top corner leaving Bruce Grobbelaar no chance (6:31 on the video). It was a goal to cap a mad, attacking frenzy of a game that was one of the best clashes between United and Liverpool ever.

6. Everton 4 Tottenham 1, 1995

Not often has one name struck such fear into a set of supporters and caused thousands of bodies to coil over into the foetal position, weeping, but mention Amokachi around Spurs fans and you might just get that reaction. The Nigerian scored twice to help Everton to a shock 4-1 win over Tottenham, and topped it with a crazy, tongue-out, crazy face celebration.

Spurs had been overwhelming favourites going into the game against the struggling Toffees but a combination of hard work and luck saw Joe Royle’s team take a 2-0 lead through Matt Jackson and Graham Stuart. Jurgen Kilnnsman pulled a goal back before even more good luck for Everton.

Royle, somewhow, got confused on the sidelines and sent on Daniel Amokachi by mistake. It was the best mistake he ever made as the Nigerian went on to score twice and send Everton to Wembley.

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