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Swansea City Vs Bradford City: 5 Great League Cup Finals (VIDEO)

22/02/2013 10:32 GMT | Updated 22/02/2013 10:38 GMT

Bradford City and Swansea City's storybook paths to the League Cup final have finally granted the competition some belated recognition. For since the turn of the century, it has become the superior domestic cup spectacle as the FA Cup suffers from magic that is about as genuine as that of Alfred Borden's in The Prestige.

The League Cup doesn't have a history to cling on to dating back over a century and benefits from good television coverage, involves less idiotic attention-seekers and its evening kick-offs generate some fantastic atmospheres.

And unlike the FA Cup, its finals have often been engrossing affairs since the turn-of-the-century.

So here are five of the best...

LIVERPOOL 2-0 MANCHESTER UNITED (2003)

Four times this century the man of the match in the League Cup final has been the goalkeeper and although Jerzy Dudek wasn't the first, his performance was perhaps the most spectacular between the sticks.

Dudek's possessed performance against Manchester United was all the more remarkable after his two blunders had gifted same side a win at Anfield earlier that season. Diego Forlán, United's sporadic scorer, got the goals that day but was out for the final, as Dudek instead exorcised some demons against Van Nistelrooy, Scholes, Verón and Giggs instead.

Steven Gerrard's deflected opener and Michael Owen's breakaway goal in the dying embers sealed a fortuitous win for Gérard Houllier's second League Cup success.

CHELSEA 3-2 LIVERPOOL (2005)

So bad were Liverpool in the Premier League during Rafael Benítez's first season at the club they had lost 10 games on the domestic front before they faced Chelsea in the season's first final.

A shock was on the cards for 79 minutes after John Arne Riise's opener inside 60 seconds, only Steven Gerrard intervened to head past his own goalkeeper to send the game into extra-time.

The superior side throughout the contest, Chelsea prevailed 3-2 and Gerrard was risibly accused by some Liverpool fans of purposely scoring the leveller. Chelsea had not been secret in their ambitions to sign the Liverpool captain, who would that summer request a transfer away from Anfield after the Istanbul Champions League victory. A day later, he did a U-turn and is destined to stay with the club for the rest of his career.

ARSENAL 1-2 CHELSEA (2007)

The Gunners' second final loss of the post-2005 era came in the last of the seven showpieces staged at Cardiff. Arsène Wenger had successfully fielded the club's youngsters, with the odd sprinkling of experience, throughout the tournament and commendably retained faith in them against an intimidating Chelsea side.

With an average age of just 22, Arsenal took the lead when Theo Walcott struck his first goal for the club over a year after joining from Southampton. However the Gunners' bête noire Didier Drogba equalised just eight minutes later and pounced again in the 84th minute to win José Mourinho his second League Cup.

Before the final whistle, a memorable fight broke out between both sets of players, which saw three sent off as Wenger and Mourinho dashed onto the pitch in an attempt to calm proceedings.

TOTTENHAM 2-1 CHELSEA (2008)

Chelsea's mini monopoly of the League Cup ended in 2008 under Avram Grant as Tottenham fans could finally tear down their Allan Nielsen shrine and erect their, er, Jonathan Woodgate homage.

Woodgate scored the winner in a contest that lasted 120 minutes as Spurs came from behind after Didier Drogba (who else?) scored in his third League Cup final, only for Dimitar Berbatov to score an Arctic-cool penalty to send the match into extra-time.

Tottenham coach Juande Ramos would be sacked eight months later.

ARSENAL 1-2 BIRMINGHAM (2011)

Birmingham would be relegated three months after this win but the scars from the final are yet to heal for Arsenal. Dominant before Nikola Žigić's opener, Robin van Persie equaliser galvanised the Gunners, who laid siege on Ben Foster's goal. Man of the match in the 2009 final with Manchester United, Foster would claim the accolade for a second time as he superbly thwarted Arsenal time and again.

A tale of two goalkeepers, up the other end Wojciech Szczęsny and Laurent Koscielny got into a horrendous mix-up in the 89th minute to allow Obafemi Martins to tap in the winner. Barry Ferguson unsportingly patted an inconsolable Koscielny on the head, Jack Wilshere got wound up, and then he cried. Thirteen days later, Arsenal were also eliminated from the Champions League and the FA Cup.