From Swansea to Leicester: Top 5 surprise League Cup winners

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Manchester City may be the current 5/1 favourites to retain the Capital One Cup they won last season, but if England’s second cup competition has taught us anything over the years, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Whether it’s Leicester City taking top honours on two occasions in the last few years, or the likes of Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers upsetting the odds with shock wins in the final, it could pay to back one of the outsiders to make it all the way to Wembley.

Everton are 14/1 to win the League Cup, for instance, while a rejuvenated Aston Villa are 40/1 and let’s not forget Premier League newboys and potential surprise package Queens Park Rangers who are 66/1 with the bookmakers.

While the full list of outright winners odds can be found here, we’re serving up five examples of when a surprise winner was crowned in the League Cup final.

Leicester City 2 – 1 Tranmere Rovers (2000)

In the late 90s and early 00s the Foxes enjoyed something of a love affair with the League Cup, winning the competition in 1997, reaching the final in 1999 and coming back for more a year later in an encounter with Tranmere no one would have predicted at the start of the season.

Rovers impressed in overcoming Coventry, Middlesbrough and Bolton along the way, while Leicester beat Leeds and Aston Villa en route to the final.  Matt Elliot was the Foxes’ hero with two goals including a winner nine minutes from time.

 

Blackburn Rovers 2 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur (2002)

(No video of the final could be found, so here’s Spurs’ semi win over Chelsea)

While the 2002 World Cup offered plenty in the way of shocks, the League Cup certainly set the tone with Blackburn beating Arsenal 4-0 in the quarter-finals and Spurs dispatching Chelsea in the semis after a sensational 5-1 win at home in the second leg.

The final saw Tottenham boss Glenn Hoddle eat his words with the former England boss famously critical of Andy Cole, claiming the striker needed three chances to score a goal. He only needed one to net the winner here.

 

Middlesbrough 2 – 1 Bolton Wanderers (2004)

The greatest moment in Boro’s history and a proud day for returning hero Juninho, the Brazilian was instrumental in the Teessider’s success which came after seeing off Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal. Bolton beat Liverpool, Southampton and Aston Villa on their way to Wembley with Jay-Jay Okocha the star in their semi-final win over the Villans.

It wasn’t to be on the day though with Middlesbrough racing into a two-goal lead within seven minutes of the start before Kevin Davies pulled one back on 21. It stayed that way and Boro went wild.

 

Birmingham City 2 – 1 Arsenal (2011)

Ask Spurs fans to pick out their favourite League Cup moment of the last 15 years and this may just shade their 2-1 win over Chelsea in 2009.  Three goals in the final 30 minutes of their second-leg tie with Ipswich spared Arsenal’s blushes in the semi-finals but it was a different story at Wembley.

Nikola Zigic headed the Blues into the lead just before the half-hour mark only to see Robin van Persie net a sensational equaliser ahead of half-time. With the game heading to extra-time substitute Obafemi Martins took advantage of a defensive mix-up to score a shock winner.

 

Swansea City 5 – 0 Bradford City (2013)

Another year of shock results saw League Two side Bradford reach the final after seeing off Premier League opposition in the form of Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa, with the last of these three victories coming over two-legs in the semi-final.

Swansea were similarly impressive, beating Liverpool and Chelsea on their way to Wembley. While the final was a one-sided affair, Bradford had already defied all expectations by reaching the showpiece game and the season still had a happy ending with the Bantams achieving promotion.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.