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Mar 11, 2011

The FA Cup's Greatest Goals

We at ESPNsoccernet will be taking you through the season with a series of FA Cup features detailing the highlights of the competition's long and proud history. Here is a selection of the goals that have entered FA Cup lore as some of the very best.

• Vote for your FA Cup all-time best XI
• FA Cup's Greatest Goalkeepers
• FA Cup's Greatest Defenders
• FA Cup's Greatest Midfielders
• FA Cup's Greatest Forwards
• FA Cup LIVE on ESPN

Ryan Giggs: Manchester United v Arsenal 1999

The goal that Giggs will be associated with for the rest of his life gave Manchester United the edge over their title rivals in a thrilling FA Cup semi-final that would be the last time the competition would ever host a replay at that stage.

The first game had ended a dour 0-0, but the replay at Villa Park saw much more action as David Beckham hammered a glorious shot past David Seaman for the opener, before Dennis Bergkamp's shot deflected off Jaap Stam to level the scores. United captain Roy Keane was sent-off for a second yellow card and, in the last minute of normal time, the Gunners were awarded a penalty, although there was even more drama as Bergkamp's effort was saved by Peter Schmeichel.

But, despite having their backs against the wall, United would go on take the advantage in extra-time thanks to one man.

Picking up the ball inside his own half after a loose pass from Patrick Vieira in the centre of the pitch, Giggs took off on a solo run. Beating Vieira (who was tracking back to atone for his error) with a drop of the shoulder, Giggs then cut across and forced full-back Lee Dixon inside in a move that would see Sir Alex Ferguson coin the phrase "twisted blood" when trying to describe it.

With Dixon drawn inside and Martin Keown dragged out wide by the presence of Andy Cole on the left wing, there was a point where Giggs was surrounded by three Arsenal players, all within a metre of him just outside the box. But, with Cole creating space simply through his movement, Giggs cut between Keown and Dixon, avoiding the former's tentative attempts to get a foot on the ball and drove towards goal.

Shrugging off Dixon with a strong arm, the Welshman then hammered a thunderous left-footed shot over David Seaman at the near post, before the diving tackle of Tony Adams arrived.

Cue what is surely the most famous celebration in FA Cup history to date, as he wheeled away, peeling his shirt off to reveal a crop of chest hair to make compatriot Tom Jones proud, before swinging it in ecstasy over his head.

Arsenal would not recover and, as Giggs' chest rug burned itself into football folklore, United lifted the Treble that season with more late drama in Barcelona.

Ricky Villa: Tottenham v Man City 1981

Argentine midfielder Ricky Villa may not consider it his greatest ever goal, but the finals of the FA Cup have seen none better than his effort to hand Spurs the 1981 trophy against Manchester City. Villa had been substituted in the first game after a poor performance, but netted twice in the replay to become an instant hero. Taking on the City defenders, Villa's slaloming run from outside the box took him past two men, before he beat centre-back Tommy Caton again to cut inside and poke a shot under the oncoming goalkeeper Joe Corrigan.

Steven Gerrard: Liverpool v West Ham 2006

A great goal, not just because of how it was scored, but also in the context of the game. In an end-to-end match, the Hammers led 3-2 after Paul Konchesky's flukey lob put them ahead and on the verge of picking up their first trophy since 1980. With four minutes of added-time left, John Arne Riise put in a cross that was headed out to a half-injured Gerrard, who lashed the bouncing ball into the bottom corner from 30 yards out. Cue extra-time and a penalty shootout, which the Reds won to fittingly give captain Gerrard the honour of lifting the trophy at the Millennium Stadium.

Gianfranco Zola: Chelsea v Norwich 2002

A moment of magic that any great player would be proud of, the little Italian wrote himself into FA Cup history with a sublime touch that lit up an otherwise routine 4-0 win for Chelsea. Graeme Le Saux's corner was driven in low towards the near post and Zola, running away from goal, flicked the ball into the net with his heel from just outside the six yard box. "You have to try crazy things to make them come true. It's a gift," he said after the game.

Keith Houchen: Coventry v Tottenham 1987

Tottenham defender Gary Mabbutt may have taken a lot of the headlines for this game, because of his two goals - one in his own net - but Houchen's contribution will never be forgotten. A long punt by goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic was flicked on to the forward, who played it out wide to Dave Bennett, scorer of Coventry's first goal. Houchen continued his run to get on the end of Bennett's cross and, losing Richard Gough, he directed a stunning diving header into the net to help the Sky Blues to the only major trophy in their history.

Charlie George: Arsenal v Liverpool 1971

George sealed a famous Double for the Gunners with a goal that handed them their first English trophy since 1953. Having been held to a goalless 90 minutes, Arsenal went behind in extra-time to a Steve Heighway goal that beat Bob Wilson at his near post before Eddie Kelly levelled after a messy scramble in the box. But, with nine minutes of the game left, George picked up the ball from John Radford, before taking a touch and blasting an unstoppable shot past Ray Clemence.

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