Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool
The FA Cup Final
Saturday 12 May 2001
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Two Michael Owen goals in the last seven minutes gave Liverpool victory in the FA Cup final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The diminutive but deadly England striker's brace came after Arsenal looked deservedly to have won the game, Freddie Ljungberg's 72nd-minute goal scant reward for a match the Gunners dominated for large periods. The Swede rounded Liverpool keeper Sander Westerveld after being set up by Robert Pires, following the goalkeeper's poor clearance and Arsenal seemed to have the game won after looking the better side. But in the closing minutes, Owen's pace proved too much as Liverpool completed a smash and grab raid and walked off with the FA Cup for the first time in nine years.
Defeat was rough justice on Arsenal, who had been the more adventurous side for the first 83 minutes. Liverpool, who cleared three efforts off the line in the course of the afternoon, seemed happy to let Arsenal come at them and relied heavily on the pace of Owen and the strength of Heskey up front. That the two were virtual spectators for much of the game says a lot about the way the Londoners dominated the game.
Arsenal had by far the best chances of the match and could have taken the lead after 17 minutes. Gilles Grimandi sent Thierry Henry careering through and although he rounded Westerveld, his effort from a tight angle was diverted onto the post by the sliding Stephan Henchoz, although the Swiss defender clearly used his elbow to save the day.
It was not to be the last lucky escape and after an uneventful first-half faded out, Arsenal came back out on the offensive only to be thwarted again on 56 minutes.
A clever ball over the top saw Henry and Westerveld both fail to make contact before Sylvain Wiltord missed out and Ashley Cole, no more than seven yards from goal, could only stab a weak effort that Hyypia instinctively blocked with an outstretched left leg.
Ljungberg was the next to suffer, latching onto more incisive work from Henry on the right but seeing his delicate chip clear the keeper but not the Liverpool skipper covering on the line.
To their credit, Arsenal came again and for Ljungberg it was a case of second time lucky as he finally found a way through the yellow wall after 71 minutes and gave his side the goal their efforts deserved.
Henry could - should - have doubled the Gunners' lead three minute later but a great block from Wersterveld and then a fluffed volley from six yards out by the Frenchman ensured that Liverpool, who had been decidedly off-colour up to this point, lived to fight another day.
Nine minutes later, Liverpool were level. Substitute Gary McAllister's free-kick to the backpost was nodded back into the danger zone by Markus Babbel. The ball dropped in front of goal and Liverpool's leading scorer this season reacted first to the loose ball, arrowing an acrobatic volley inside David Seaman's right-hand post.
Four minutes later, Wenger's side were on their knees. Much as they had throughout, the Gunners poured forward looking to restore their lead but lost possession, allowing Patrik Berger, another substitute, to send Owen streaking clear of an Arsenal defence that suddenly looked every bit its age in the sweltering Millennium Stadium heat.
As Owen outpaced Lee Dixon, Seaman edged out to cut down the angle, but from the left-hand side of the penalty area, Owen sent a precise left-footed finish past the England keeper and in off the far post.
Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon (Bergkamp 90), Keown, Adams,Cole, Pires, Grimandi, Vieira, Ljungberg (Kanu 85), Wiltord (Parlour 76),Henry.
Subs Not Used: Lauren, Manninger.
Goals: Ljungberg 72
Liverpool: Westerveld, Babbel, Henchoz, Hyypia,Carragher, Murphy (Berger 77), Gerrard, Hamann (McAllister 60), Smicer (Fowler77), Heskey, Owen
Subs Not Used: Arphexad, Vignal.
Goals: Owen 83, 88
Ref: S Dunn (Bristol).