2008 FA Cup Final
|Event||2007–08 FA Cup|
|Date||17 May 2008|
|Venue||Wembley Stadium, London|
|Man of the Match||Nwankwo Kanu (Portsmouth)|
|Referee||Mike Dean (Cheshire)|
The 2008 FA Cup Final was a football match held at Wembley Stadium on 17 May 2008 and was the final match of the 2007–08 FA Cup competition. The match was the 127th FA Cup Final, and the second to be held at the new Wembley Stadium since its redevelopment. The match was contested by Portsmouth and Cardiff City, with Portsmouth winning 1–0. This was the first time that the two sides have ever met in the competition. Both teams were aiming to win the FA Cup for the second time, Cardiff having won it in 1927 and Portsmouth in 1939. Had Cardiff won, they would have been the first club from outside the top division of English football to have won the competition since West Ham United in 1980. The match had an attendance of 89,874, a record which still stands as the largest ever for an FA Cup Final at the new Wembley Stadium.
For winning the competition, Portsmouth received £1 million in prize money, as well as qualification to the 2008–09 UEFA Cup, their first foray into European football. It was suggested prior to the game that Cardiff City would not have been allowed to compete in the UEFA Cup had they beaten Portsmouth, as Football Association (FA) regulations previously meant Welsh clubs were ineligible for European competitions even if they won the FA Cup or League Cup, prompting UEFA to offer the possibility of Cardiff filling a wild-card slot in the UEFA Cup. However, the FA later issued a statement saying they would give their permission for Cardiff to participate in the UEFA Cup as one of England's representatives in the competition. As in the preceding few years, the players voted Player of the Round in every round from the First Qualifying Round to the Semi-finals were present and given VIP hospitality for themselves and a guest.
The FA announced that, before the game began, the Welsh national anthem, "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau", would be played, along with the traditional "God Save the Queen" and "Abide with Me". The Welsh anthem was sung by Katherine Jenkins, while Lesley Garrett sang "God Save the Queen" and the two duetted on "Abide with Me".
Route to the final
The FA Cup is English football's primary cup competition. Clubs in the Premier League and the Football League Championship enter the FA Cup in the third round and are drawn randomly out of a hat with the remaining clubs. If a match is drawn, a replay comes into force, ordinarily at the ground of the team who were away for the first game. As with league fixtures, FA Cup matches are subject to change in the event of games being selected for television coverage and this often can be influenced by clashes with other competitions.
|4th||Hereford United (a)||1–2|
|5th||Wolverhampton Wanderers (h)||2–0|
|Key: (h) = Home venue; (a) = Away venue; (n) = Neutral venue.|
Cardiff City entered the competition in the third round, receiving a bye as a Football League Championship club. Their opening match was a 3–1 home win against Southern League Division One Midlands side Chasetown. An own goal by defender Kevin McNaughton from a cross by Ben Steane gave Chasetown the lead in the 17th minute. Midfielder Peter Whittingham scored a first half injury time equaliser for Cardiff. Whittingham's teammate Aaron Ramsey (who was making his first appearance in a FA Cup match) put Cardiff ahead with a close-range header and winger Paul Parry hit the ball through Chasetown goalkeeper Lee Evans' legs to ensure progression to the fourth round. Cardiff were drawn away to League Two side Hereford United at Edgar Street. McNaughton opened the scoreline with his first goal for Cardiff with a volley from the edge of the Hereford penalty area during first-half injury time. They extended their lead when striker Steven Thompson scored a penalty after McNaughton was felled by Clint Easton. Hereford scored in the 77th minute through striker Theo Robinson, but they were unable to achieve an equaliser and Cardiff won the match 2–1 to go through to the fifth round. This was the first time since 1994 that Cardiff had progressed into the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Cardiff City's fifth round match was home to fellow Championship club Wolverhampton Wanderers. Whittingham opened the scoreline for Cardiff after 90 seconds as he converted a flick-on from striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Hasselbaink extended Cardiff's advantage nine minutes later by side-stepping the ball into the top-left hand corner of the Wanderers goal net. Wanderers were unable to respond in the remainder of the match, despite centre forward Kevin Kyle taking advantage of a mistake by centre-back Glenn Loovens after the second half kicked off, only for Loovens to get back to clear off the line. In the sixth round, Cardiff was drawn away to Premier League side Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium. An early goal by Whittingham and a second by defender Roger Johnson from a Whittingham free-kick in the 23rd minute was enough to take Cardiff into the semi-finals. In the semi-final held at the Wembley Stadium against Barnsley, central midfielder Joe Ledley scored the winning goal from a volley off his left foot to help Cardiff reach their first FA Cup final since 1927.
|3rd||Ipswich Town (a)||0–1|
|4th||Plymouth Argyle (h)||2–1|
|5th||Preston North End (a)||0–1|
|6th||Manchester United (a)||0–1|
|Semi-final||West Bromwich Albion (n)||1–0|
|Key: (h) = Home venue; (a) = Away venue; (n) = Neutral venue.|
Like Cardiff City, but as a Premier League club, Portsmouth received a bye into the third round. Their opening match was a 1–0 away win against Championship side Ipswich Town at Portman Road on 4 January 2008. Striker David Nugent, who started the match as a substitute, scored the winning goal in the 51st minute (and his first goal since September 2007), allowing Portsmouth to progress into the next round. There, they were drawn against another Championship club Plymouth Argyle. The match held at Portsmouth's home ground, Fratton Park, saw the visitors take the lead early in the first half when striker Chris Clark scored his first goal for Plymouth, which came from a deflection off Hermann Hreiðarsson. Portsmouth responded with their recently signed midfielder Lassana Diarra converting a corner kick pass from midfielder Pedro Mendes in the 34th minute. A goal by Niko Kranjčar from an eight-yard pass from right back Glen Johnson gave Portsmouth a 2–1 victory and progression to the next round of the FA Cup.
The club faced Preston North End away at Deepdale in the fifth round. In the final seconds of the match, Preston midfielder Darren Carter attempted to clear a corner kick from Kranjčar but struck the ball into his own net. In the sixth round, Portsmouth was drawn away to fellow Premier League club Manchester United at Old Trafford. Portsmouth took a 1–0 victory after midfielder Sulley Muntari converted in a penalty following a foul by United reserve goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak on striker Milan Baroš which prompted Kuszczak's dismissal off the pitch. This ended the chances of Manchester United of replicating their success of the 1998–99 season. Championship side West Bromwich Albion were the opposition in the semi-final, which was also held at the neutral Wembley Stadium, on 5 April 2008. Striker Nwankwo Kanu side-footed the winning goal of the match, which meant Portsmouth had secured a place in the final for the first time since 1939.
Cardiff decided to leave veteran striker Robbie Fowler out of the squad as he had only just recovered from injury. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink started on his own up-front, supported by winger Paul Parry. Aaron Ramsey became the second youngest player, at 17 years and 143 days, to appear in an FA Cup Final when he came off the bench to replace Peter Whittingham on the hour mark, only 24 days older than Curtis Weston was for Millwall in 2004.
Jermain Defoe was cup-tied for Portsmouth, having played in the third and fourth rounds for Tottenham Hotspur in January. Consequently, Nwankwo Kanu played as a lone striker, with support from a five-man midfield of Niko Kranjčar, John Utaka, Pedro Mendes, Lassana Diarra and Sulley Muntari. Sol Campbell, Glen Johnson and David James were the only three English players in the starting line-up, with Campbell and former Arsenal teammate Kanu both looking to win the FA Cup for the third time, having won the competition twice with Arsenal.
Man of the match
|Shots on target||3||5|
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