Tuesday, May 8, 2012

8 May 1971 - The Gunners Double Their Pleasure

On 8 May 1971, Arsenal completed the Double with an extra-time win over Liverpool in the FA Cup Final, 2-1.

They had taken the league title five days earlier with an away victory over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, then met Liverpool at Wembley. The two teams had split their two league meetings that season, with each team winning 2-0 at home.

A capacity crowd of 100,000 watched as they played the first 90 minutes to a scoreless draw. Liverpool controlled the better part of the first half, but were unable to beat Arsenal keeper Bob Wilson, while his Liverpool counterpart, Ray Clemence, denied a handful of chances at the other end. In the second half, the hot sun began to take its toll as both sets of players began to suffer cramps and fatigue. The best chance of the half came in the 77th minute, when Arsenal midfielder George Graham sent a header off the post.

But it was Liverpool who took the lead in just the second minute of extra time, as left winger Steve Heighway fired the ball past Wilson from the edge of the penalty area, beating the keeper at the near post. Just nine minutes later, though, Arsenal leveled the score after striker John Radford, facing away from goal, sent a speculative ball over his head and into the area, where Arsenal substitute midfielder Eddie Kelly got to it and prodded it toward the goal. At the time, it appeared that Graham took the last touch before the ball crossed the line, but replays later confirmed the goal as Kelly's, making him the first substitute to score in an FA Cup Final.

Then, in the 111th minute, Arsenal striker Charlie George delivered the winner with a right-footed blast from outside the penalty area. It was Arsenal's fourth FA Cup, but their first since 1950.

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