Top 5 EFL Cup Final upsets

Dave Kuzio /

Aston Villa are going to need to pull off a massive upset if they are to beat Manchester City in the EFL Cup Final, but luckily for them we have seen quite a few upsets over the years. Dave Kuzio takes a look at the biggest EFL Cup Final shocks that have happened in his lifetime.

READ MORE: Get our free EFL Cup Final tips for Aston Villa v Manchester City

Aston Villa are massive underdogs going into the EFL Cup Final against holders Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, March 1 2020.

On paper, Manchester City have the better squad and manager. There is no denying that. But sometimes in Finals, miracles actually happen.

I am not saying that Villa are destined to win the EFL Cup because they are the underdogs, I am saying that they are still in with a chance because the overwhelming favourites do not always come out on top.

Take a look at the top 5 EFL Cup Final upsets of the least few decades…

5. Oxford United 3-0 Queens Park Rangers – 1986 EFL Cup Final

Oxford and QPR were both in the old First Division so you might not class this a massive shock. The thing you should know is, Oxford had just been promoted to the top division and were languishing near the bottom of the table. QPR, on the other hand, were relatively safe and were hanging around in mid-table.

Rangers had booked their place in the final having beaten the mighty Liverpool 3-2 on aggregate over the two legs, while Oxford had secured a 4-3 aggregate success over Aston Villa.

QPR had the likes of Ian Dawes, Terry Fenwick, Martin Allen and Gary Bannister in their starting line-up. Oxford, at the time, had a few real unknown players in their ranks like Ray Houghton and John Aldridge – after this game they went on to become household names.

Many experts predicted that QPR would win comfortably due to Oxford’s inability to defend. They, however, had other ideas and they led at half-time thanks to a goal from Trevor Hebberd. Oxford made it two seven minutes into the second half when Houghton finished off a fine passing move, while Jeremy Charles secured the win in the 83rd minute.

4. Luton Town 3-2 Arsenal – 1988 EFL Cup Final

Arsenal were expected to defeat Luton Town quite convincingly in the 1988 EFL Cup Final. This was the fourth time the Gunners had reached the Final, while this was the first major Cup Final that Luton had ever been involved in.

The overwhelming favourites did not get off to the best start as they trailed in the 13th minute when Brian Stein fired home after a neatly angled pass from Steve Foster. This was a massive shock as it was only the second goal they had conceded in the competition.

Arsenal, who had the likes of John Lukic, Nigel Winterburn, Michael Thomas, Tony Adams, David Rocastle and Alan Smith in their side started to get into the game. It took until the 71st minute for the to get on level terms as substitute Martin Hayes scored following a Paul Davis free-kick.

This spurred the Gunners on and three minutes later they led for the first time. Striker Smith collected a ball from Thomas to fire past Andy Dibble with a goal that looked like winning the cup for Arsenal.

Then came an amazing final 10 minutes of football for Luton Town. Arsenal were awarded a penalty after Rocastle was brought down. Winterburn then had his spot kick saved by Dibble, had the defender had scored the game would have been over. This inspired Luton and they levelled in the 83rd minute when Danny Wilson headed home Mark Stein’s cross.

With the game heading into injury time and extra-time looming, Luton won it at the depth. Mark Stein was brought down and from the free-kick Brian Stein grabbed his second goal of the game to complete a remarkable comeback.

3. Birmingham City 2-1 Arsenal – 2011 EFL Cup Final

Arsenal were once again overwhelming favourites to beat Birmingham and lift the EFL Cup. They had already beaten the Blues twice in the Premier League and were fully expected to do the same at Wembley.

Birmingham should have been awarded a penalty inside the opening two minutes. Lee Bowyer appeared to be fouled by Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny, but he was adjudged to have been offside before the foul. Television replays later showed that Bowyer was actually onside.

The Blues did finally take the lead in the 28th minute when Nikola Zigic headed home from a corner. Arsenal ensured they went in at half-time level as Robin van Persie volleyed home Andrei Arshavin’s cross.

Both teams wasted chances to take the lead, but it was Birmingham who kept their composure with time running out. A terrible mix-up between Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny allowed Obafemi Martins to nip in and tap home the winner to secure a second EFL Cup Final success for the Blues.

2. Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Manchester United – 1991 EFL Cup Final

Back in 1991, Manchester United weren’t the countless trophy winning side they soon become, but they were still a massive name in English football.

They had won the FA Cup the previous year and were fully expected to beat Wednesday at Wembley and add another piece of silverware to the trophy cabinet.

This wasn’t to be the case as Wednesday boss Ron Atkinson got a little bit of revenge on the man who replaced him as manager of Manchester United – Alex Ferguson.

The only goal of the game came in the 37th minute and it was a beauty. The Owls had been awarded a free-kick and it was only half cleared by Gary Pallister and John Sheridan was on hand to fire home from the edge of the area with a sweet half-volley.

1. Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United – 1994 EFL Cup Final

This is the second Manchester United defeat on this list and again it was Atkinson who masterminded Ferguson’s downfall. United couldn’t shake off the former manager when it came to league cup finals.

This was another game that the Red Devils were expected to win. They were on the hunt to win the treble for the first time in their history. They went on to win the Premier League and FA Cup – this was the only domestic trophy they failed to get their hands on.

United had a team loaded with superstars. The likes of Steve Bruce, Roy Keane, Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis, Ryan Giggs, Mark Hughes and Eric Cantona all started for United, but they were outplayed by a determined Villa outfit.

Villa took the lead after 26 minutes when Dalian Atkinson – who has since passed away – fired them ahead thanks to a neat flick over from Dean Saunders.

They made it two in the 76th minute when Saunders managed to stick a leg out and divert Kevin Richardson’s cross past Les Sealey in the United goal. United gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the 83rd minute when Hughes pulled one back, but things were only about to get worse.

Hughes was denied an equaliser thanks to a fantastic save from Mark Bosnich. Tony Daly then hit the post for Villa, the ball fell to Atkinson and his goal-bound shot was handled by Kanchelskis. The Ukrainian-born Russia international was sent off and Saunders sealed the win for Villa by converting the penalty to secure a 3-1 victory.