Four of the most entertaining League Cup semi-final second legs this century

Updated: 28/05/2024

Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur (5-3 on aggregate), 2007

Tottenham had stormed into a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes of the first leg of this all-north London League Cup semi-final in 2006/07, only for a Julio Baptista brace to level the scores at the midway point of the tie.

It took until the 77th minute of the second game for the deadlock to be broken, Emmanuel Adebayor edging the hosts ahead at the Emirates Stadium after being picked out by Tomas Rosicky. It was the least Arsenal deserved having dominated most of the match, but Spurs restored parity eight minutes later when Mido flashed a header past Manuel Almunia.

The momentum was therefore with Martin Jol’s men heading into extra time, but Arsenal dug deep to retake the lead through Jeremie Aliadiere at the end of the first period. Pascal Chimbonda then took the game away from Tottenham when he inadvertently helped the ball into his own net after Rosicky had smashed a shot against the post. Arsenal advanced to the final thanks to a 5-3 aggregate triumph, but they were defeated at Wembley by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.

Burnley 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur (4-6 on aggregate), 2009

Championship side Burnley may have taken a shock lead at White Hart Lane in the first leg of this last-four clash, but Tottenham’s 4-1 victory on the night meant the second leg was expected to be a formality. Instead, the Clarets came close to pulling off a mighty upset.

Robbie Blake put the second-tier outfit ahead in the 33rd minute, before Chris McCann piled the pressure on Spurs by making it 2-0 with a little more than a quarter-hour left on the clock. Burnley’s pressure eventually told when Jay Rodriguez scored a third in the 88th minute, forcing a shell-shocked Tottenham into extra time.

The scoreline remained unchanged over the next 28 minutes, which meant Burnley were set to advance to the final on away goals. However, late strikes from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe saved Spurs – who went on to lose the final to Manchester United on penalties – from embarrassment.

Aston Villa 6-4 Blackburn Rovers (7-4 on aggregate), 2010

There was little sign of what was to come in the second instalment of this semi-final when James Milner’s goal earned eventual runners-up Aston Villa a 1-0 win in a rather dull first leg at Ewood Park. A brace from Nikola Kalinic turned the tie on its head inside 26 minutes at Villa Park, but Stephen Warnock levelled things up at 2-2 on the half-hour mark. Milner then made no mistake from the penalty spot shortly before half-time, meaning it was advantage Villa at the interval.

There were plenty of goals still to come, however, as Villa raced into a 6-2 aggregate lead shortly after the hour thanks to an own goal from Steven Nzonzi and further efforts from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey. Rovers pulled one back in the 63rd minute through Martin Olsson and then threatened a dramatic final few minutes when Brett Emerton made it 5-4 on the night late on. The visitors pushed hard in the closing stages, only for Ashley Young to put the game beyond them in stoppage time.

Birmingham City 3-1 West Ham United (4-3 on aggregate), 2011

Birmingham’s 2-1 success against Arsenal in 2010/11 was one of the biggest League Cup final upsets of recent times, but they almost failed to qualify for the Wembley showpiece. Already trailing 2-1 from the first leg of their semi-final clash with West Ham, City fell further behind when Carlton Cole found the net after 31 minutes at St Andrew’s.

That two-goal cushion meant the Hammers were in pole position to advance to the final, but the Blues had other ideas. Lee Bowyer gave them hope in the 59th minute, before Roger Johnson forced extra time by making it 2-1 to the hosts on the night. With the bit between their teeth, Birmingham grabbed the decisive goal through Craig Gardner in the 94th minute, sending the home fans into raptures.

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