Football might be becoming more commercialised than ever, but one thing that will remain the same is the magic of the FA Cup.
England’s oldest football competition has a special place in the hearts of football fans all over the country, and one of the best things to happen in the season is when a small team claims a giant-killing of epic proportions.
As much as we love the magic of the Cup, the hard truth with this cliché is that the competition is almost always won by a top-six Premier League club. But sometimes there are those rare occasions where the tradition is broken, and a team that nobody expected goes all the way and wins the FA Cup for the underdogs.
This is what happened to Portsmouth in the 2007/08 season, and it still remains one of the most surprising FA Cup wins in the history of this historic tournament.
The interesting thing about Pompey’s quest to FA Cup glory is that the final was arguably the easiest game of the entire journey.
The final against Cardiff City is not a clash neutrals remember well, largely because of how dull the game was. Nwankwo Kanu scored the only goal 37 minutes in, a rebounded shot from two-yards out, and that’s essentially all that happened in a march that only saw eight shots on target.
The reason why everyone points to Portsmouth’s FA Cup win being one of the most unlikely is because of the team’s run to the final.
Harry Redknapp’s side only played one game at home during their four-game odyssey to Wembley and beyond, and that match was against Championship side Plymouth Argyle, a game in which Pompey came from behind to win.
The run to the final was filled with nervy moments from David Nugent scoring the only goal in the third-round against Ipswich Town to David James saving a crucial penalty against Preston North End and Pompey only going through thanks to a late own goal from Darren Carter.
But the game that solidified Portsmouth into FA Cup history was their quarter-final match against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
This was a United side that would go on to win the Premier League and Champions League with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, and Wayne Rooney, and there is no doubt that had it not been for Pompey causing an upset, Sir Alex Ferguson would have led this team to a second treble.
The game will remain one of the craziest in FA Cup history. United came close to scoring on multiple occasions, but James and a bit of luck from the Portsmouth defence kept the Red Devils at bay.
And then in the 78th minute, Milan Baros was brought down in the penalty area by United keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, giving Portsmouth a chance to win the game and bringing the home side down to 10-men.
Kuszczak had come on for Edwin van der Sar at half-time, resulting in Rio Ferdinand going in between the sticks for the remainder of the game. Sulley Muntari converting from the spot sent Portsmouth to Wembley.
A Kanu goal in the semi-finals against West Brom sent Pompey to their first Cup final in over 70 years, and the rest is history. Portsmouth’s accomplishment will remain in FA Cup folklore for generations to come, the question now is will a story as similar to theirs ever happen again?
Portsmouth fans, how impressive was the 2008 FA Cup win? Let us know!
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