2008 FA Cup Final: Cardiff City vs Portsmouth

Cardiff City 0 - 1 Portsmouth

  • Cardiff City
    • No Goals.
  • Portsmouth
    • Kanu 37'
    • (Near post tap-in from a low right-wing cross)

Wembley Stadium, London, Saturday 17th May 2008, 15:00 GMT

Attendance: 89,874

Match Referee: Mike Dean (Cheshire)

Entertainment Rating: 2.5/5

Team Line-ups:

Cardiff City (Black Strip/Yellow Trim)

  • GK 1 Peter Enckelman
  • RB 2 Kevin McNaughton
  • CB 12 Roger Johnson
  • CB 6 Glenn Loovens
  • LB 3 Tony Capaldi
  • RM 16 Joe Ledley
  • CM 4 Gavin Rae
  • CM 10 Stephen McPhail (c)
  • LM 7 Peter Whittingham
  • CF 36 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
  • CF 11 Paul Parry
  • Substitutes
  • GK 13 Michael Oakes
  • DF 5 Darren Purse
  • MF 18 Trevor Sinclair
  • MF 30 Aaron Ramsey
  • FW 20 Steven Thompson


Dave Jones

Portsmouth (Blue Strip/Gold Trim)

  • GK 1 David James
  • RB 5 Glen Johnson
  • CB 23 Sol Campbell (c)
  • CB 15 Sylvain Distin
  • LB 7 Hermann Hreidarsson
  • DM 6 Lassana Diarra
  • RM 17 John Utaka
  • CM 30 Pedro Mendes
  • CM 19 Niko Kranjcar
  • LM 11 Sulley Muntari
  • CF 27 Nwanko Kanu
  • Substitutes
  • GK 21 Jamie Ashdown
  • DF 16 Noe Pamarot
  • MF 8 Papa Bouba Diop
  • FW 9 Milan Baros
  • FW 10 David Nugent


Harry Redknapp

Road to Wembley:

  • 3 – 1 vs Chasetown (H)
  • 2 – 1 vs Hereford United (A)
  • 2 – 0 vs Wolverhampton Wanderers (H)
  • 2 – 0 vs Middlesbrough (A)
  • 1 – 0 vs Barnsley (Wembley)
  • 3rd Round
  • 4th Round
  • 5th Round
  • Q/Finals
  • S/Finals
  • 1 – 0 vs Ipswich (A)
  • 2 – 1 vs Plymouth Argyle (H)
  • 1 – 0 vs Preston North End (A)
  • 1 – 0 vs Manchester United (A)
  • 1 – 0 vs West Bromwich Albion (W)

Match Breakdown

Whatever the outcome of the two Semi-Finals in 2008's FA Cup competition, there was to be no doubt that Wembley would be hosting probably the most unglamourous FA Cup Final in modern times. This is not a derogatory remark against the four teams that contested those Semi-Finals as they had reached that stage on merit and proved that the 'magic of the FA Cup' was alive and kicking. However, when considering that three out of the final four teams were based in the Championship, it was natural to reach a conclusion that the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, etc, must have experienced very poor form that year when it came to the grand old centrepiece of the Football Association's calendar.

From another viewpoint though, the Final had plenty on offer for both teams that eventually made it to Wembley on 17th May 2008. For Cardiff City, after overcoming Barnsley in their Semi-Final, it was a chance to become the first team outside of the top divison in English football to lift the famous trophy since West Ham United in 1980. For Portsmouth, victors over West Bromwich Albion in their Semi-Final, the opportunity to play in European competition (the UEFA Cup) for the first time in their history.

Despite the lack of superstar status between them, the team news for both sides threw up a plethora of potential match winners and very good footballers at both the start and twilight of their careers. Cardiff's squad included young Welsh talents such as Joe Ledley and Aaron Ramsey alongside ex-Leeds and Chelsea goal-machine Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink starting up front. Harry Redknapp's established reputation as a transfer guru meant that Portsmouth had a wild mix of experienced English Internationals (David James, Sol Campbell) and lesser-known overseas talents (John Utaka, Niko Kranjcar). Pre-match predictions were generally in Portsmouth's favour but nobody could count out the underdog Bluebirds in the biggest match of the Welshmen's recent history.

The early stages of the match were very cagey with neither side pushing too hard in attack whilst trying to earn a sense of calm as the vociferous fans from both clubs caused a frenetic atmosphere inside the huge Wembley stadium. The noise endured until the 12th minute when Ledley played the ball through to Parry for the match's first opening, only for David James to block his effort on goal. Cardiff in the ascendency. However, this single threat was all Portsmouth needed to become more ambitious themselves when in the 21st minute they mounted an attack through Muntari whose pass into Kanu gave the long-limbed Nigerian a chance to score. The ex-Arsenal striker could only hit the outside of the post though as his dribble around goalkeeper Enckelman left an open goal gaping in his sight.

Kanu would not make the same mistake soon afterwards as he gave Portsmouth the all-important lead in the 37th minute. When Enckelman fumbled a powerful low right-wing cross from John Utaka, all Kanu had to do was tap the ball into the waiting net with his right boot from less than two yards out. Cue some casual dance celebrations from him and his team mates whilst 40,000 Pompey supporters were going wild in the stands.

This sparked an instant response from the Championship side who thought they had levelled when, on the stroke of half-time, Loovens somehow managed to loop the ball into the net after James had mistimed the ball coming into the box from a corner kick. The goalkeeper breathed a sign of relief though when the referee correctly ruled the goal out as Loovens himself handled the ball before shooting.

With such a tight scoreline the second half began with as much trepidation as the first but Cardiff had to start attacking at some point to force an equaliser. It was Portsmouth however who started to look for a second, match killing, goal as Kanu had a shot cleared off the goal-line by Loovens. Dave Jones had seen enough by the 60th minute and sent on his talented teenager Aaron Ramsey to become the second youngest ever player in an FA Cup Final (17 years, 143 days).

The move proved to be fruitless though as it was a Portsmouth substitute, David Nugent, who was a more efficient threat to extending the scoreline as his strong driving shot forced an excellent save from Enckelman. With time running out for them, The Bluebirds had to start taking risks and in the 80th minute it was that man Loovens who so nearly scored from a Ramsey corner. The ball just dipping over the crossbar after a towering header from the big defender.

Huffing and puffing around the large Wembley pitch, Cardiff's legs visibly started to tire as the Premier League fitness level of Sylvain Distin helped him to run with the ball from his own half in the 90th minute to almost finish the match off, only to be disappointed by a gutsy challenge from Johnson. Distin's disappointment would only last for mere seconds though as Referee Mike Dean blew the final whistle to seal a 1-0 victory for Portsmouth and the first major trophy in manager Harry Redknapp's 25-year coaching career. It was not a classic Final but no less engrossing for the two sets of fans as Sol Campbell lifted the iconic cup to the cheers of the Pompey faithful whilst the appreciative Cardiff City fans trudged away disconsolate after such a narrow margin of defeat.