On this day in 2006: Liverpool win thrilling FA Cup final against West Ham

Liverpool players celebrate after winning the FA Cup (David Davies/PA)

Pepe Reina saved three penalties and his own reputation as Liverpool won a thrilling FA Cup final against West Ham on this day in 2006.

Reina almost threw the cup away in normal time at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium with mistakes which gifted the Hammers two goals.

But he was the hero of the shoot-out, saving from Bobby Zamora, Paul Konchesky and Anton Ferdinand to break the gallant Hammers’ hearts.

Liverpool’s seventh FA Cup win mirrored the result which saw them crowned champions of Europe in Istanbul 12 months earlier, and – just like against AC Milan – Reina only had his shot at glory thanks to another superhuman effort from Steven Gerrard.

Liverpool skipper Gerrard equalised twice – the second a 30-yard thunderbolt in injury-time – and then scored his penalty despite suffering cramp in the closing minutes of the game.

The 125th FA Cup final was the best in years, and certainly the most exciting since Manchester United’s 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace in 1990.

For a long time, the magic of the cup looked like giving West Ham another FA Cup triumph in the year former managers Ron Greenwood and John Lyall died.

They were two goals ahead inside half an hour and were leading as the stadium announcer called for four minutes to be added on at the end of normal time.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez praised Liverpool heroes Gerrard and Reina, but insisted his FA Cup triumph was a team effort.

“You must give the credit to all my players. A lot of them had cramps after 62 games this season, but they kept going to the end,” he said.

“We know about the quality of Steve. He will get lots of credit, but I prefer to talk about my team and our supporters, who were like an extra player.

“Maybe we like to do it the difficult way, but it’s not good for the heart. It would be better if we could start by winning and then stay calm.

“It was a fantastic final with two teams fighting really hard. The character of the team can be a key factor for the future because we can be sure we can win these kinds of games.”

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