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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Chelsea 2-1 Everton

Drogba, 21 Saha, 1
Lampard, 71

An FA Cup Final that began with the quickest goal of its history was secured with one of its best and could have been long remembered for one that wasn't even given. In the kind of sweltering heat that would have made Saturday afternoon on Orchard Road feel like a chilly night in downtown Lapland, Chelsea came from behind to secure the trophy with a typically spirited and determined performance. David Moyes' Everton stunned them with a lightning strike after just 25 seconds, but they responded well and only a sleepy linesman prevented them from producing a result that might have accurately reflected their dominance.

Guus Hiddink had joked in the match programme that, as Chelsea played so well when they conceded first, perhaps he should give his opponents a head start. Well, we thought he was joking anyway. John Obi Mikel's sloppy header was punished, via a Marouane Fellaini knockdown, by a ferocious shot from Louis Saha. No-one has ever scored a quicker goal in an FA Cup Final.

But as Hiddink has said in the past, no-one reacts to adversity quite like Chelsea. Led by Frank Lampard, who elegantly sprayed his passes around with typical precision, they began to stretch Everton at the back. Florent Malouda gave Tony Hibbert all kinds of problems on their right flank, the Englishman performing so haplessly that David Moyes was eventually forced to withdraw him at the break. His uneasiness meant that the gap between Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott in the centre grew so wide that Didier Drogba was able to scamper into the void unopposed and slam a header past Tim Howard. Short of drilling the ball into the channels for Louis Saha to chase, Everton were unable to offer much in the way of an attacking threat. Moyes switched to a 4-2-3-1 in the second half, allowing Tim Cahill to push up and support Saha, but to no avail. Malouda and Ashley Cole continued to plunder Everton's defences and Lampard's mesmeric goal with 20 minutes left to play was as inevitable as it was spectacular.

The former West Ham midfielder has never been the most naturally gifted of footballers, but he has worked tirelessly to improve himself. In a way, this goal summed up his career. He shaped to shoot with his right foot, but was brought to the ground by Phil Neville. Where other players would have cried for a foul, Lampard regained his footing and slammed the ball home with his left. Determination, belief and drive. That's why Lampard has achieved so much in his career.

But how much trouble would the match officials have been in had Everton equalised? Malouda, whose energy deserved a goal, crashed a long-range effort off the bar, the ball bouncing down behind the line before pinging out again. From my position in the pressbox, in line with the spot of Tim Howard's penalty area, it looked an obvious goal. The linesman disagreed. Thankfully, justice was done, but surely this will herald a new era where technological advances are embraced instead of ignored.

Guus Hiddink has certainly been embraced by English football, so much so no-one wants to let him go. Throughout the match, the Chelsea fans pleaded with him to stay, singing his name repeatedly. He has rescued their season, taken them to within a Norwegian referee of a Champions League Final and now he has left them with the England's most loved cup competition. I, for one, would not want to be stepping into his shoes next season.

LIONHEARTS - The Everton fans made the most of their big day, singing and dancing down Wembley Way hours before the kick-off. They comfortably outsang and outcheered their rivals in the opening stages, but their support wasn't enough to make the difference. The right team won, but the fans should be proud of themselves.

CLUELESS - The FA's policy of giving almost half of the Cup Final tickets to corporate sponsors and their mysterious 'football family; is a licence for touting. Thousands of tickets end up on the black market, changing hands for ten times their value and leading to worryingly unsegregated areas where the person next to you could be Everton or Chelsea, balanced or psychotic. It's an accident waiting to happen.

LOSER - Didier Drogba's dyng swan routine is having serious repurcussions on Chelsea's ability to win games. Every time he goes down 'injured' it pre-empts a five minute period of limping and whining that ends abruptly when the ball comes near him. For those five minutes, Chelsea are effectively down to ten men.

PUNTER'S RANT - If you had Chelsea to win 3-1, you'll be as furious with the officials as Florent Malouda. The French winger hit what should have been one of the best FA Cup Final goals of recent years, but was denied because the linesman didn't think it had crossed the line. It had though.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Chelsea rarely have to look far for inspiration when Frank Lampard is on the field. He took control of the game after Louis Saha's opening strike and stroked the ball around the pitch, creating space for his team-mates and keeping Everton under pressure. His goal wasn't bad either.

MATCH STATS

Crowd - 89,391
Yellow Cards - Mikel, Lampard (Chelsea), Hibbert, Neville, Baines (Everton)
Red Cards - None
Chelsea -
Peter Cech 6, Jose Bosingwa 6, Ashley Cole 7, John Terry 7, Alex 7, John Obi Mikel 7, Frank Lampard 9, Michael Essien 7 (Michael Ballack 7, 61st), Florent Malouda 8, Nicolas Anelka 7, Didier Drogba 7
Everton -
Tim Howard 7, Tony Hibbert 5 (Lars Jacobsen 6, 46th), Joseph Yobo 6, Joleon Lescott 6, Leighton Baines 6, Leon Osman 5 (Dan Gosling 6, 83rd), Phil Neville 7, Tim Cahill 6, Stephen Pienaar 6 , Marouane Fellaini 6, Louis Saha 7 (James Vaughan 6, 76th)
 
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