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2 of Wembley's Best Matches

There was much fanfare when the new Wembley Stadium opened its doors for the first time in 2007.

The construction of the ground took longer than anticipated, but it was worth the wait, as the new stadium boasted both the largest attendance in the United Kingdom and an iconic arch to replace the former Twin Towers.

England's Under-21 side were the first side to grace the hallowed turf, playing Italy in a friendly contest.

The match ended 3-3 with Giampaolo Pazzini scoring the first strike at the stadium, with the striker netting a hat-trick to earn the Azzurri a draw, despite efforts from David Bentley, Wayne Routledge and Matt Derbyshire.

Since then, Wembley has hosted some extremely exciting contests, including harrowing defeats for the Three Lions – none more so than one of their first games at the ground in their infamous 3-2 loss to Croatia, which ended Steve McClaren's tenure as manager.

It has also played host to the Champions League as well as its duties as the venue for the FA Cup and League Cup finals. It has already staged one classic this season and with four teams remaining in the FA Cup, it should have another fine match on its hands in May.

Chelsea are backed by Paddy Power to clinch the trophy at 2/1, perhaps completing a famous double in Antonio Conte's first season.

This year's final has a lot to live up to, as here are two examples of intense matches that the stadium has hosted in its first ten years.

Manchester United 3-2 Southampton – League Cup Final

You don't have to back too far to find a classic; indeed, it was only in February this year. United and the Saints played out a five-goal thriller that almost had everything.

Manolo Gabbiadini thought he had given Claude Puel's men the lead in the early stages of the game, only for his strike to be incorrectly ruled out for offside.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic fired United ahead with a super free-kick from the edge of the box, before Jesse Lingard doubled their tally with a neat finish.

However, Gabbiadini struck back in stoppage time in the first half to leave the match evenly poised at the break.

The Italian then levelled the scores after the break to give Southampton impetus in the final third, and the Saints put Jose Mourinho's men under extreme pressure with Nathan Redmond almost drawing a foul that should have seen Lingard sent off.

Oriol Romeu came closest to firing Puel's side ahead, only to hit the bar with his header. The match had one final turn three minutes from time when Ibrahimovic netted a late winner to hand United the trophy.

Arsenal 3-2 Hull City – FA Cup Final

"Arsenal Possession" (CC BY 2.0) by domfell

The Gunners entered this contest under huge pressure to deliver a victory, having failed in their previous final trip to Wembley – losing 2-1 to Birmingham City in the 2011 League Cup final.

Arsene Wenger's men got off to the worst possible start, sending their manager's heart racing on the sideline as James Chester and Curtis Davies fired Hull into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes.

Arsenal responded to get back on track through Santi Cazorla as the Spaniard curled the ball beyond the reach of Allan McGregor.

The Gunners kept pressing into the second half, with Steve Bruce's men holding firm until the 71st minute when Laurent Koscielny notched an equaliser, turning the ball home from close range.

The match went into extra-time and Hull negotiated the first period, but were undone by a neat backheel from Olivier Giroud – teeing up Aaron Ramsey to smash home the winner. The victory ended the club's nine-year trophy drought, easing the pressure on Wenger.

Arsenal v Hull
Arsenal v Hull: FA Cup Final

Written by Rob. First published on March 24th, 2017.