|Liverpool won 3–1 on penalties|
|Event||2005–06 FA Cup|
|Date||13 May 2006|
|Venue||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff|
|Man of the Match||Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)|
|Referee||Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)|
The 2006 FA Cup Final was the final and deciding match of the FA Cup 2005-06. It took place on Saturday, 13 May 2006 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and saw the 2001 cup winners Liverpool beat London club West Ham United after a penalty shoot-out. West Ham were ahead 2-0 and then 3-2 but Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard scored a goal in the last minute from 30-yards + to take the game to extra-time and they eventually triumphed on penalties. It is considered by most who watched to be one of the greatest Cup Finals in the history of the tournament.
Liverpool had won the FA Cup on six previous occasions (1965, 1974, 1986, 1989, 1992 and 2001) – four of those coming since West Ham last won the trophy. As well as 1980, West Ham also won the Cup in 1964 and 1975. The Hammers took part in the first FA Cup final to be played at the newly built Wembley Stadium in 1923. Coincidentally, Liverpool played in the first FA Cup final in Cardiff, which was in 2001. The newly rebuilt Wembley Stadium was expected to be ready for this final, but delays in building meant that the final would take place in Cardiff, as it had done since Wembley's closure.
It was Liverpool's seventh FA Cup triumph to date, placing them joint fourth on the list of the most successful sides in the competition with Aston Villa. It was their first domestic trophy under the management of Rafael Benítez, who had been appointed two years earlier and won the UEFA Champions League in his first season at the helm.
It was West Ham United's first appearance in the final for 26 years, since they won the trophy in 1980, and their fifth appearance so far.
The game was originally planned to be played on 20 May. However, England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson wanted a four-week break before the 2006 FIFA World Cup so that if any England players were involved (Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Peter Crouch all later made his squad) could get a decent rest before the tournament.
Staffordshire referee Alan Wiley officiated the match. Mike Dean from the Wirral had originally been appointed, but questions as to his impartiality were raised due to his residential proximity to Liverpool.
In the week before the Final, there was a major crisis when a block of 1,600 tickets in the Liverpool supporters' seating area was stolen in the postal system. The stadium authorities refused to reissue the tickets on crowd safety grounds, and threatened to eject anyone found sitting in the block from the stadium and possibly prosecute them for receiving stolen goods. Liverpool F.C. arranged for most of the affected fans to receive tickets from an allocation that had been held back for a lottery among their supporters. The day after the final, South Wales Police seized 100 stolen tickets. Three people were also arrested after 15 forged tickets were also found ahead of the match.
Road to Cardiff
|Liverpool||Round||West Ham United|
|Luton Town [C]|
Sinama Pongolle 62, 74
Alonso 69, 90
|Round Three||Norwich City [C]|
|Gerrard 37 (p)|
|Round Four||Blackburn Rovers [P]|
|Sheringham 33 (p)|
Khizanishvili 59 (og)
|Manchester United [P]|
|Crouch 19||Round Five||Bolton Wanderers [P]|
|Replay||Bolton Wanderers [P]|
|Jääskeläinen 10 (og)|
|Birmingham City [P]|
Crouch 5, 38
Tebily 77 (og)
|Round Six||Manchester City [P]|
|Ashton 41, 69|
Old Trafford, Manchester
Luis García 53
Villa Park, Birmingham
- Both clubs received a bye to round three.
- In square brackets is a letter that represents the opposition's division
- [C] = Championship
- [P] = Premier League
Before the match, uncertainties existed over the both teams' line-ups – injuries had prevented West Ham striker Dean Ashton from playing for 12 days and Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso limped out of the club's final league match of the season, but both players finally started the match. Hayden Mullins and Luis García were both suspended, having been sent off in 26 April league match between the two clubs.
West Ham took an early lead without having a shot on goal. Alonso gave away possession to Ashton, who passed to Lionel Scaloni, who had space on the right wing. His low, driven cross was clumsily dealt with by Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, who bundled the ball past his keeper Pepe Reina. West Ham scored again after 28 minutes, when Reina failed to hold Matthew Etherington's shot and Dean Ashton raced in to tuck the loose ball beneath Reina's body.
From a free kick taken on the wide right by Steven Gerrard, Liverpool's Peter Crouch had a close decision for offside go against him, and saw his scoring effort disallowed. In the 32nd minute, Liverpool captain Gerrard delivered a similar ball to Djibril Cissé who volleyed the ball past Shaka Hislop in the West Ham goal. This was only the second time Liverpool had scored in the first half of an FA Cup Final, after John Aldridge's goal against Everton in 1989.
Shortly after half-time, with the score at 2–1, Harry Kewell limped out of the game, just as he had in Liverpool's Champions League Final of 2005. Fernando Morientes replaced him. Within ten minutes of the restart, Liverpool equalised through Gerrard. Crouch's knock-down was volleyed in by Gerrard from inside the penalty area. West Ham re-took the lead in the 64th minute, when Paul Konchesky swung in a cross which none of his team mates could reach. It sailed over Reina into the Liverpool net.
With Liverpool trailing, Rafael Benítez brought on midfielder Dietmar Hamann for striker Peter Crouch. West Ham, over the following 15 minutes, made their three permitted substitutions; Bobby Zamora on for Ashton, Christian Dailly on for Carl Fletcher, and Sheringham on for Etherington.
Wasting chances from Morientes and Gerrard, who was now suffering with cramp, Liverpool battled in vain until injury time, when Djibril Cissé pulled up with cramp. West Ham put the ball out to allow Cissé to be treated, Liverpool's throw-in returned the ball to West Ham deep in their defensive end, and the ball was punted back into the midfield. After an unsuccessful ball into the penalty area, the ball found its way to Steven Gerrard. His first-time right footed 35-yard strike flew past Shaka Hislop's right and into the net to level the scores.
Extra-time saw a succession of injuries due to fatigue or cramp. Both sides were affected, notably West Ham's Marlon Harewood. With West Ham unable to substitute him, he required extensive treatment for a foot injury, and ended up hobbling around the pitch for the final minutes of extra-time.
A West Ham free kick in the final moments of extra-time was flicked on by captain Nigel Reo-Coker. Reina dived to his left & clawed the ball onto the far post. Sami Hyypiä tried but failed to clear the ball from the Liverpool goal, and the ball fell to Harewood. His close range volley taken with his injured left foot spun wide.
Just as they did in their Champions League victory in Istanbul in 2005, Liverpool took the match to penalties after a 3–3 draw. Reina, who had been at fault for two of the West Ham goals, saved three penalties, his final save from Anton Ferdinand clinching the FA Cup for Liverpool for a seventh time.
| 13 May 2006|
|Liverpool||3 – 3 (a.e.t.)||West Ham United|| Millennium Stadium, Cardiff|
Referee: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)
| Cissé 34'|
Gerrard 54', 90+1'
|(Report)|| Carragher 21' (o.g.)|
|3 – 1|| Zamora|
|Shots on target||7||9|
- FA Cup Final for a list of previous FA Cup Final results.