ArsenalClubPremier League

‘The Five Minute Final’ stuns Manchester Utd

Story Highlights
  • Arsenal 1979 FA Cup final win
  • Liam Brady orchestrating Arsenal game
  • Brian Talbot and Alan Sunderland goals
  • Frank Stapleton header against Manchester United
  • Dramatic comeback in final five minutes
  • Alan Sunderland iconic celebration

In May 1979, Arsenal FC came to Wembley to redeem themselves following a surprising defeat by Ipswich Town the previous year. Managed by Terry Neill, the Gunners were poised not to let victory slip away for the second year. Yet, the manner of their eventual triumph was beyond what most could have predicted.

The match saw Arsenal’s midfield maestro, Liam Brady, orchestrating the game, enabling the team to establish a solid two-goal lead by half-time. Brian Talbot was credited with Arsenal’s first goal, although Alan Sunderland was hot on his heels to deliver the final touch. Then, with his trademark elegance, Brady sprinted down the right flank to provide a perfect cross for Frank Stapleton to head past Manchester United’s keeper, Gary Bailey.

As the final seemed to inch towards a comfortable Arsenal win, a thrilling turn of events unfolded in the last five minutes. First, Gordon McQueen revitalized United’s hopes by converting a low cross, and moments later, Sammy McIlroy cleverly evaded two challenges to beat Arsenal’s Pat Jennings, equalizing the match.

The momentum had swung dramatically in favor of United, leaving Arsenal in shock. Then, when it looked like they would have to settle for a draw, Brady made a decisive move. He surged into the United half from the kickoff and passed the ball to Graham Rix on the left. Brady’s calculated pass forced Rix to attack the ball, swinging in a first-time cross that was nothing short of perfection.

Misjudging the cross, United’s Bailey watched helplessly as Sunderland dashed towards the far post, sliding into the net the decisive goal. Sunderland’s ecstatic celebration has since been etched in FA Cup history. In a remarkable show of resilience, Arsenal had reclaimed their footing just in time. The FA Cup was destined for Highbury once again.

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