Chelsea take the Wembley spoils as Drogba’s winner sinks Liverpool in FA Cup Final
A Didier Drogba winner proved the difference between Chelsea and Liverpool as the west London club extended their superb recent FA Cup record with a 2-1 victory over the Reds.
The Blues claimed their fourth FA Cup since 2007 and their seventh in all while their Ivorian hit-man became the first ever player to score in four FA Cup finals.
History, character, romance: these are but a few choice descriptions that surround the phenomenon that is the FA Cup, so it was fitting that the final’s participants graced Wembley’s turf in the colours of red and blue to allow a true throwback experience to finals of the past.
Chelsea’s goal came after 11 minutes, with Mata sliding Ramires in down the right channel. The Brazilian then expertly brushed Enrique aside before wrong-footing Pepe Reina at his near-post.
In spite of this early goal, the first half proceeded to be a fairly tame affair, with the teams simply not seeing enough chances to create an entertaining atmosphere.
The second half started more briskly with Liverpool looking to press their way back into the game, leaving themselves more open at the back.
These gaps were then exposed when Didier Drogba broke free of Škrtel and fired across goal into the far corner, giving Reina no chance to put his side two ahead.
If there is a positive that Liverpool can take from this game, it is that Andy Carroll seems to have not only started scoring, but also began imposing his considerable physicality once more.
He showed great footwork to shake off John Terry and a produced a forceful finish after Stewart Downing dispossessed Bosingwa, putting his team right back in the game only minutes after he was brought on. The ex-Newcastle forward also scored the winner in the semi-final against Everton as well as at Ewood Park a few days prior.
The higher tempo was there for all to see as Liverpool hounded an equaliser and pressed Chelsea’s midfielders with added aggression and intensity.
It reached a climax when – with ten minutes remaining – Luis Suárez crossed to Andy Carroll who, at point blank range, arrowed a header towards goal only for Petr Čech to pull off what must be one of the greatest saves in FA Cup history.
Liverpool were appealing for a goal, sure that the ball had crossed the white line, but the linesman was having none of it as replays showed the ball to only be half over, preventing its legitimacy.
As it was, the soulful Reds could not find their goal leaving Chelsea to celebrate another FA Cup win, lengthening their reign of dominance in the competition.
Having only been in charge for four months, Roberto Di Matteo already has his first trophy as Chelsea manager, although Andre Villas Boas is likely to feel slightly aggrieved that he was not allowed to take the credit for overseeing the start of the Blues’ successful FA Cup run.