Chelsea 2 Leeds United 1 – FA Cup Final (April 29, 1970)
Our list of the 10 most-exciting Chelsea matches wouldn’t be complete without this #3 match – the 1970 FA Cup final replay match against Leeds United. After a trio from the European Champions League, it’s a classic contest for a domestic cup.
In the Seventies, the FA Cup final was even more of a prestigious showcase than it is today. The end-of-season showdown riveted the nation – indeed, half-a-century on, this game remains the second most-watched sports event in UK history, after the 1966 World Cup final.
It pitted the flamboyant Blues, a product of London’s Sixties, against a gruff, no-nonsense Leeds United from the north. The Whites were Division 1 runners-up, the Londoners had finished third, but neither club had ever lifted the prized trophy.
The Wembley final, 18 days earlier, had ended 2–2. This replay was switched to Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium. Due to issues with the Wembley pitch, it was deemed unsuitable for the occasion.
This match is considered one of the best finals ever, but it is equally famous for both teams’ aggression. Tackles euphemistically described as “full-blooded” and “robust” would earn instant dismissal today. Five decades ago, the interpretation of what constituted a fair challenge was more lenient. In the years since, after it has been re-officiated for TV, referees often hand out multiple red and yellow cards.
It was a first half of few clear-cut chances, and Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Bonetti was injured by Mick Jones at a corner kick. “The Cat” received lengthy treatment, and minutes later, it was Jones who beat him to give United a 1-0 lead at the interval.
Brave Bonetti resumed his place in the net for the second half. Despite the pain, he made three crucial saves. Then with 12 minutes remaining, Charlie Cooke floated in a tantalizing cross, and Peter Osgood threw himself at it to score with a diving header. To this day, he is still the last player to score in every round of the competition.
As at Wembley, there was extra-time. With a minute left in the first period, Ian Hutchinson launched a long throw-in across the penalty box. It was bundled in at the far post with his shoulder by David Webb.
For the first time in the whole contest, the Blues were ahead, and they comfortably saw out the last 15 minutes to secure the club’s first ever FA Cup victory. The crowd was ecstatic, and the team celebrated the win in a style all their own.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this epic match, club historian Rick Glanvill gave his take on the game in the style of our modern-day, Pre-Match Briefing preview. You also can find more video, photos and coverage by the minute in the style of our 2020 Match Centre.
Once you’re done reliving this memorable match, check out our #2 most-exciting match pick. Think you know what it is?