LONDON - Chelsea overcame a resilient Portsmouth to win a
dramatic FA Cup final 1-0 at Wembley Stadium on Saturday and achieve
their first League and Cup Double.
Didier Drogba got the winner with a 59th minute free-kick after they
hit the woodwork five times in the first half and Frank Lampard missed
a late penalty.
In an astonishing match of twists and turns, Kevin-Prince Boateng, who
scored from the spot in the semi-final at Wembley, also saw his 56th
minute penalty saved.
The triumph gave the west London side a second straight FA Cup final
victory, after they beat Everton last season, and their third success
in four seasons.
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Although the newly-crowned Premier League champions dominated relegated
Portsmouth in the opening half, they were thwarted on five occasions
when Drogba (twice), Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou and John Terry all
hit the bar or post.
Despite that Portsmouth's incredibly vociferous fans made the greater
noise inside the sun-drenched stadium and stayed to applaud their side
even after defeat.
Chelsea manager Carlo
Ancelotti, who has won the Double in
his first season in England, told reporters afterwards: "Its a
fantastic victory for me, I am very happy.
"We won't do anything special to
celebrate, I will follow my
players and my friends. Wine, sure, champagne. It is right to
have a celebration, the team had a fantastic season."
"It has never happened in my
career to hit the bar or post
five times in one half... and we didn't start too well in the
second half but I was not worried because we were in control of
the game and had chances to score."
Portsmouth manager Avram Grant
said: "It was a very
difficult season. It is a season I will not forget. I have won a
lot of games in my life, trophies and everything, but this was
unbelievable. We always played against the odds."
Chelsea began as 5-1 on favourites to beat Portsmouth who are in
administration, have debts of 138 million pounds and
finished bottom of the Premier League.
Some pundits had predicted a record FA Cup final victory following
Chelsea's 8-0 trouncing of Wigan Athletic when they clinched the league
title at Stamford Bridge last Sunday.
But Portsmouth, many of whose players might have been playing their
last match for the club because of the financial problems and
relegation, weathered the storm.
In contrast Chelsea had just one first half scare with Cech producing an outstanding reflex save to deny Frederic Piquionne.
Pompey's first close shave came after 14 minutes when Lampard shot
against the outside of David James's left-hand post with a 25-metre
Kalou was guilty of one of the most blatant misses in any Cup final
after 27 minutes when he shinned an Ashley Cole cross against the bar
in front of an open goal from four metres.
A minute later Chelsea captain Terry headed the ball against the bar again with the under-fire James beaten.
Portsmouth rode their luck once more 10 minutes later when James pushed Drogba's 30-metre free kick against the bar.
The right-hand post came to Portsmouth's rescue again two minutes later
when Drogba cracked the ball against it from close range with England
goalkeeper James again beaten.
The Ivory Coast striker, who will lead his country at the World Cup
finals, showed his utter frustration by smacking the post with his hand.
Chelsea had four other chances in the opening period but they needed a
stunning reflex save from Cech to keep out an instinctive close-range
effort from Piquionne after 22 minutes.
The match finally turned Chelsea's way when Boateng's weak penalty,
awarded after substitute Juliano Belletti brought down Aruna Dindane,
was saved by Petr Cech's legs.
With that let off, Chelsea finally seemed to kick back into first gear,
and Drogba fired home a 25-yard free-kick just three minutes later to
maintain his record of scoring in all six competitive matches he has
played for Chelsea at Wembley - including in three FA Cup finals in the
past four seasons.
VIDEO: Watch Drogba's FA Cup winner
The striker, who will also lead Ivory Coast as captain in the World
Cup, scored the winner in their 1-0 FA Cup final victory over
Manchester United in 2007; Chelsea's only goal in a 2-1 defeat by
Tottenham Hotspur in the 2008 League Cup final and the winner in the
2-1 semi-final victory over Arsenal in 2009.
Drogba also grabbed the equaliser in a 2-1 win over Everton in last
season's FA Cup final and got the opener in Chelsea's 3-0 FA Cup
semi-final win against Aston Villa last month.
Lampard fired wide from the spot in the 88th minute after a Michael
Brown had clattered into him but Chelsea had already done enough to
become the seventh club in English history to win the Double, the 11th
time the feat has been achieved.
RECORD FOR COLE
Victory for Chelsea saw England defender Ashley Cole become the first
player to collect six FA Cup winners' medals.
Cole won his first winners' medal playing for Arsenal against Chelsea
in 2002 and won further medals with Arsenal in 2003 and 2005. He has
also now completed three wins with Chelsea after also featuring in the
winning sides of 2007 and 2009.
The 29-year-old had shared a record five FA Cup winners' medals with
Arthur Kinnaird (The Wanderers and Old Etonians), Charles Wollaston
(The Wanderers) and Jimmy Forrest (Blackburn Rovers), who all achieved
the feat in the 19th century.
Meanwhile, Cole and team-mate Nicolas Anelka have also become the first
players to win the English League and FA Cup Double with two different
Chelsea fans will look ahead with optimism to a new era of success
under the stewardship of Carlo Ancelotti, who in steering the Blues to
a domestic double in his first season has already made more of an
instant impact at Stamford Bridge than Jose Mourinho. For Portsmouth the future is less certain.
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