The FA Cup, England’s oldest and most prestigious soccer competition, has a long history of producing underdog victories and unforgettable upsets. From small, non-league teams shocking their top-flight opponents to lower division sides going on fairytale runs to reach the final, the tournament has seen it all. Here are some of the most memorable underdog moments in FA Cup history.
One of the most iconic upsets in FA Cup history took place in 1988 when Wimbledon, then a team in the old Third Division, defeated the mighty Liverpool in the final. Liverpool, who were the dominant force in English football at the time, were overwhelming favorites, but Wimbledon’s never-say-die attitude and physical approach to the game saw them secure a shock 1-0 win, with Lawrie Sanchez’s header being the only goal of the game.
In 2013, League One side Bradford City produced a stunning comeback to defeat Premier League giants Chelsea in the fourth round. The Bantams, who were two divisions below Chelsea, found themselves 2-0 down, but fought back to win 4-2 in a thrilling game at Stamford Bridge. It was a result that sent shockwaves through the footballing world and showed that anything is possible in the FA Cup.
Another famous upset came in 2018 when Wigan Athletic, then in League One, defeated Manchester City, who were on their way to winning the Premier League, in the fifth round. Will Grigg’s late goal secured a 1-0 win for the Latics, who had been reduced to 10 men following Fabian Delph’s dismissal. The result was seen as one of the biggest shocks in recent FA Cup history and once again highlighted the magic of the competition.
Non-league sides have also played their part in producing memorable upsets in the FA Cup. One of the most famous instances came in 2012 when Conference National team Luton Town defeated Premier League outfit Norwich City in the fourth round. The Hatters, who were 85 places below Norwich on the English football pyramid, secured a 1-0 win at Carrow Road to send shockwaves through the competition.
The FA Cup is known for its ability to create moments of magic and drama, and underdog victories and upsets are a big part of what makes the competition so special. Whether it’s a lower league team defeating a top-flight side, or a non-league outfit going on a run to reach the latter stages of the tournament, the FA Cup continues to produce memorable underdog moments that capture the imagination of football fans around the world. It’s these moments that make the FA Cup such a unique and special competition, and ensure that its place as one of the most prestigious tournaments in world football is secure.