FA Cup - January 26th 1997
1997 saw another epic FA Cup victory against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. Unlike the previous two occasions though we went into the tie believing that we could win. Although Liverpool were top of the league at the time they were not the force of old and by now we had an emerging team under the guidance of Ruud Gullit.
Even so, by the break our pre-match hopes looked to have been delusional in the extreme. We were two goals down and had not an easy chance been missed just before the whistle any half-time changes by Gullit would have been worthless.
As it was he corrected an earlier error by introducing the player that Liverpool feared most, Mark Hughes. With a full-back taken off, we went to three at the back and Roberto Di Matteo was pushed forward.
What followed was a remarkable display of powerful, fluent, attacking football that our opponents could not handle. Hughes scored early, Gianfranco Zola equalised and from then on it was only a matter of time. Gianluca Vialli, guilty of a bad miss in the first half scored twice to seal a famous win.
Not only a great win, this was also a significant one in our history. Without this there would have been no FA Cup, no Cup Winners’ Cup the following year and the whole development of the club could have been put back several years.