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Greatest Underdog Stories: The Five Most Unlikely FA Cup champions ever

Wigan Athletic beat Manchester City (1-0), 2013

Heading into the final at Wembley, Wigan Athletic had already been relegated from the Premier League after flirting with demotion to the Championship in the seasons prior before their luck finally ran out.

However, before they began life in the second tier of English football they had a chance to bid goodbye to the Premier League on a high with an FA Cup final to play. Their opponents were a heavily stacked Manchester City side led by Roberto Mancini at the time. Not many gave Wigan much of a chance as they went in search of a first FA Cup, but Roberto Martinez’s men caused a massive upset by defeating the Citizens 1-0 to secure their first major trophy.

Wimbledon beat Liverpool (1-0), 1988

Liverpool in the 1980s were European royalty. They had dominated not just English football but were a fearful force in the European competitions. In the 1988 FA Cup final, the Reds entered the Wembley pitch as English champions and were up against Wimbledon, a team that were not even in the league system about a decade ago.

However, the Dons caused a huge upset by winning 1-0. The match was an eventful affair as Liverpool’s Peter Beardsley had a legitimate goal disallowed and the Dons’ captain Dave Beasant became the first goalkeeper to save a penalty in the FA Cup as he kept away a dubious spot kick from John Aldridge.

West Ham beat Arsenal (1-0), 1980

The Gunners were playing their third straight FA Cup final and were expected to win a second successive trophy, having beaten Manchester United 3-2 a year earlier. They were everyone’s favourite considering their east London opponents were playing at the time in the second division.

However, the script was turned on its head as Trevor Brooking grabbed the only goal of the game to make the Hammers the last team from the lower divisions to win the prestigious domestic cup trophy.

Southampton beat Manchester United (1-0), 1976

The Saints had their first FA Cup triumph in 1976 as they downed the Red Devils 1-0 courtesy of a strike from Bobby Stokes.

Manchester United were in contention for the league title with fierce rivals Liverpool, and Queens Park Rangers and were expected to get the better of Southampton but the late Stokes’ strike was enough to give the Saints their first major trophy.

Coventry City beat Tottenham Hotspur (3-2), 1987

Going into the 1987 final, the north Londoners had won all seven of their previous FA Cup finals, while their opponents were contesting their first ever.

Spurs were the overwhelming favourites, not least because they finished third in the 1986/87 league campaign. True to form, Spurs took the lead in only the second minute of the match through a Clive Allen strike before being pegged back by a Dave Bennett goal six minutes later. Gary Mabbutt put Spurs ahead again in the 40th minute before Coventry equalised around the hour mark. With the match headed towards extra time, the ball ricocheted off Mabbutt’s knee and into his own goal to give Coventry City their first FA Cup with a 3-2 win.

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