Chelsea held over heavy Liverpool pressure to win the FA Cup for the seventh time, and their fourth in six years, as they beat Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley today thanks to Ramires’s first-half goal and a landmark strike by Didier Drogba.
Chelsea got off to a great start when Ramires scored after 11 minutes.Juan Mata again showed why Chelsea signed him this summer when he pounced on a mistake by Jay Spearing in the middle of the park and then turned and found to find Ramires with a perfectly weighted pass and the midfielder raced clear of José Enrique to fire in a shot which went in off Pepe Reina at his near post. Jose Enrique will be disappointed with the ease that Ramires got behind him, while Pepe Reina will have nightmares for a long time about letting Ramires beat him to his near post.
Liverpool also tied the game within three minutes but Branislav Ivanović brilliantly blocked Craig Bellamy’s goal-bound volley after Chelsea failed to clear Glen Johnson’s centre.
Those were the highlights of a cagey first half, but the second half lived up to the billing of an FA Cup.
First Chelsea went 2-0 up when Frank Lampard evaded the challenge of Spearing in midfield and slid the ball into the path of Didier Drogba, who squeezed his effort through the legs of Martin Škrtel and into the bottom right-hand corner to become the first player to score in four FA Cup finals. It was a classic Drogba goal and Liverpool seemed dead at this point.
Down 2-0 Kenny Dalglish brought on Andy Carroll and the Liverpool center-forward single-handily brought Liverpool back into the game.
Carroll did what Didier Drogba has been doing for years. His physical presence intimidated the Chelsea back four and it was no surprise when Carroll scored to make it 2-12. Carroll pounced on a loose ball in the Chelsea box, sold John Terry two dummies and then buried the ball into the roof of the net giving Čech no chance.
Suddenly Liverpool had belief that they could go on a tie this game and they almost did with under ten minutes to go when Suarez picked out Carroll at the back post and his header seemed destined for the back of the net until Petr Cech somehow pawed the ball onto the crossbar and Ivanović scrambled the ball away to safety. It was a fantastic save, and reminded me of Jim Montgomery’s save against Leeds in 1973, that won Southampton the FA Cup that year.
Somehow Chelsea held on to win their fourth FA Cup in six season, a remarkable record. With the win Didier Drogba became the first player to score in four finals, John Terry became the first captain in the modern era to lift the trophy on four occasions, while Ashley Cole now has an incredible seven winners’ medal.
What is remarkable is the job that Roberto di Matteo has done at Chelsea since taking over from the fired Andre Villas-Boas. He has turned Chelsa’s season around, winning the FA Cup and taking them to the Champions League final for only the second time in the club’s history. How can Roman Abramovich not give him the job full-time after this?