Games Gone By: 2006 FA Cup Final

In the run up to Liverpool's trip to Wembley on Sunday for the Carling Cup final i thought it would be nice to take a trip down memory lane and revisit the last time the Reds got to a final. Of course Liverpool didn't reach Wembley this time but the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff provided easily one of the best FA Cup finals ever.

The final on the 13th May 2006 saw Liverpool line up against Alan Pardew's West Ham United. The Reds finished that season in 6th place with West Ham finishing 9th. Pardew had done a decent job and his side were more than ready for the memorable 125th FA Cup final.

The Reds were actually first to grab a goal but unfortunately it was in the wrong net. Jamie Carragher quite a regular culprit for own goals gave West Ham the lead much to Reina's and the travelling Liverpool fans dismay but at this stage only 20 minutes had passed.

Dean Ashton made things worse for Liverpool though when his strike after a Reina mistake inside the area put The Hammers 2-0 up before half time.

By now the West Ham fans were going absolutely mental and who could blame them, they were 2-0 up in the FA Cup final against a team who had 6 FA Cups.

With minutes left of the first half Liverpool seriously needed to find a goal. The chance almost fell to Peter Crouch but the forward was ruled offside and so it was left to Cisse to put Liverpool back into the game.

A superb long diagonal cross from Steven Gerrard was met first time by Cisse who slipped the ball past Shaka Hislop.

In the second half Liverpool were still on the back foot and a lot more work was required in order for the Reds to pick up that silverware on this wonderful sunny day in May.

Reina was immediately made a hero after two saves straight into the first half. He denied both Yossi Benayoun and Marlon Harewood and also saved Liverpool from finding themselves in an even bigger predicament.

Steven Gerrard found the Reds their equaliser with a strong strike in from inside the box. Hislop had no chance and now finally the Red side of the stadium had something to cheer about. With half an hour still to go it was now looking possible for Liverpool to nick this from West Ham.

West Ham however had plans of their own and Paul Konchesky who would later play for the Reds found The Hammers what everybody thought would end up being the winner. And what a strange goal it was. It can't have been a shot, but that's exactly what it became, Reina was placed awaiting a cross but was beaten completely when the ball flew into the top right corner.

The clock ticked on and on and still Liverpool couldn't find an equaliser. 70 minutes, 80 minutes...

But then, bang on 90 minutes just as all hope was looking lost, that man Steven Gerrard popped up with what can only be described as a magic strike.

The captain knew exactly what he had to do when a defensive ball came out to him. His strike from 35 yards put Liverpool back in with a chance of glory and what a way to equalise!

Pepe Reina once again proved why he was between the sticks for Liverpool when he pulled out a magnificent save to deny Nigel Reo Coker a winner shortly after Gerrard's strike.

Penalties saw Hamann score Liverpool's first whilst Pepe Reina saved Zamora's spot kick. Sami Hyypia saw his penalty saved by Hislop and then Teddy Sheringham followed up by putting his penalty past Reina.

There was no doubt when Gerrard stepped up that this one was going into the back of the net and a confident spot kick put Liverpool 2-1 ahead. Konchesky stepped up next but Reina made another save, considering the goalkeepers start to the match what a game he had overall! Especially in the penalty shoot out.

John Arne Riise's penalty straight down the middle meant that if Anton Ferdinand missed or Reina could pull off another save then the Reds would have won the FA Cup. Reina did pull off another save and the party began!

From my age group it's this game and obviously the Champions League final in 2005 that forever stick in your mind. It would be fantastic if on Sunday Liverpool could beat Cardiff, but let's hope we don't make things as hard for ourselves this time!