The FA Cup
VIDEO: History made for Chelsea
Chelsea seal 'double' in enthralling Cup Final at Wembley.
The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON
Winning club receioved £1.9m, runner-up receives £900,000
Live on ITV1
Chelsea lifted the double for the first time in their history at Wembley, when a second half goal from Didier Drogba saw them lift and hold The FA Cup in an enthralling Final against Portsmouth.
Whilst the scoreline suggests a tight and tense affair, the game itself was anything but, as it swung from one side to the other with the woodwork being hit five times in the first half alone and then two penalty misses in the second half.
It has been a largely forgettable season for Pompey following their numerous off-field problems and relegation from the Premier League, but both players and supporters put in a performance to be proud of from start to finish as they ran Carlo Ancelotti’s men all the way only to be undone by a Drogba free-kick which ironically nestled in the goal after hitting the post.
After a rousing build-up to the 129th Cup Final, Portsmouth made a lively start to the game, with plenty of willing running from the likes of Frederic Piquionne and Aruna Dindane, but it was Chelsea who always looked more in control and they really must still be wondering how they didn’t score in a first half which turned into a barrage.
Frank Lampard fired one shot narrowly wide of the post within the first five minutes, before he came even closer ten minutes later when a 25 yard effort had David James beaten only to clip the outside of the post and go wide.
Drogba then saw two shots bravely blocked by Aaron Mokoena in the area, following a pacy Chelsea move which began on the right with Branislav Ivanovic and was swiftly moved across the area by Lampard and Florent Malouda.
However, just moments later Portsmouth really should have been ahead. A deep cross from Dindane on the right picked out Kevin Prince-Boateng at the far post. He fired a volley back at goal, which Piquionne stuck a leg at and diverted towards goal, only for Petr Cech to somehow react and push the ball away from a matter of yards.
If that seemed a close call, then Salomon Kalou had no excuses whatsoever in the 27th minute, when Ashley Cole broke forward on the left and pulled a cross back towards the Ivorian. He only had the simple task of tapping home from five yards but crashed his shot against the bar, allowing David James a second chance to claim the ball which he duly did.
It was then John Terry’s turn, as he rose highest in the area to nod Malouda’s free-kick goalwards. It was over James, but bounced back off the bar for the second time in as many minutes.
With just over ten minutes to go before the break, Dindane had a half chance when Piquionne beat the offside trap to race clear on the left. He cut inside to pick out Dindane, but the striker mis-kicked from 12 yards and the opportunity had gone.
Chelsea hit the woodwork for a fourth time in the 38th minute when Drogba struck a fine free-kick from 30 yards. An unsighted James somehow managed to manoeuvre himself and palm the ball onto the bar, but it bounced down, onto the goal-line before spinning back into play.
Incredibly, the goal frame came to Portsmouth’s rescue again three minutes later, when Nicolas Anelka’s chipped cross to the far post picked out Drogba. His low toe-poke beat James, only to bounce back off the foot of the post to end a first half Alamo.
The break obviously gave Pompey boss Avram Grant a chance to regroup and his players emerged for the second half looking much more solid to create a much more even contest.
Firstly, Boateng flashed a fierce left footer over the bar before they had an even better chance to take the lead in the 55th minute. Dindane skipped around Chelsea substitute Juliano Belletti and into the area and when the Brazilian bundled the Pompey striker over, referee Chris Foy pointed to the penalty spot. Unfortunately for Pompey, Boateng’s spot kick went straight down the middle of the goal and Cech saved with his feet.
They were cruelly made to pay too, as within three minutes Chelsea had scored. Another free-kick was awarded to Chelsea just outside the Pompey box, and Drogba stepped up to stroke a shot around the wall and in off the post.
It was unfortunate for Portsmouth, but having spurned their opportunity to edge ahead, they were perhaps caught a little cold and Chelsea went on continue their quest for more goals.
Drogba was denied a second goal by James after jinking his way into the area and substitute Joe Cole couldn’t find the target from the follow-up, before Anelka fired a howitzer over the bar after a neat run forward.
Pompey weren’t finished though and they had two good opportunities to bring things back level. Substitute Nadir Belhadj was brought on to provide a more offensive look to their left hand side and within seconds of his arrival, he placed a perfect centre into the danger zone which was agonisingly missed by both Piquionne and Dindane. Another similar cross followed with five minutes to go, but again it was just inches ahead of the Pompey strikers.
Chelsea could then have secured the victory as Lampard was felled in the area by Michael Brown, with Foy awarding another spot-kick. It was Lampard himself who stepped up, but drilled his shot wide of the target to leave the game on a knife-edge and also the first Final to see two missed penalty kicks.
It wasn’t to matter though, as following three minutes of added time, the final whistle sounded and the west Londoners were able to start the celebrations of what has been a historic campaign.