FA Cup Final 2012
Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool

 

 

It was a familiar sight at Wembley as Didier Drogba celebrates another goal for Chelsea (above top); while substitute Andy Carroll reduced the deficit for Liverpool with a thumping effort fired past Petr Cech into the roof of the net (above below) 


 

By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from Wembley Stadium 


Chelsea survived a half-hour flourish to overcome Liverpool in an embattling FA Cup final as Didier Drogba's Wembley goal mania continued.

The Ivorian was the match winner once more in a important match scoring his fourth goal in an FA Cup final shortly after half-time with a low shot. Ramires had given the Blues an eleventh minute lead with an effort which found a way past Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina at his near post while Drogba hit a 55th minute second for Roberto Di Matteo's men although substitute Andy Carroll pulled one back before another goal-line technology moment arised when his goalbound header was clawed out on the line and onto the crossbar by Petr Cech. It is Chelsea's fourth FA Cup victory in six years and further reinforces the obvious need for the Italian boss to stay on as manager.

The former West Bromwich Albion boss made one change from the team which obliterated Tottenham in the semi-final last month with Branislav Ivanovic- who missed the 5-1 win over Spurs through suspension- returning for the injured David Luiz.

Liverpool made three changes from their semi-final victory over Merseyside rivals Everton with Pepe Reina replacing Brad Jones in goal with the Spanish stopper banned following his red card in a Premier League match beforehand. Jose Enrique came in at left-back with Jamie Carragher left on the bench and Daniel Agger moving to the centre of defence. Welshman Craig Bellamy made his first ever start at Wembley at the age of 32 with Andy Carroll dropped to the substitutes bench.

The usual pre-match routine took place before the biggest annual cup event of the season at the national stadium with the traditional FA Cup hymn "Abide with Me" being sung with real vigour by famous opera-style singer Mary-Jess Leaverland while the national anthem was belted out by competition winner Laura Wright from Suffolk. Former England player and manager Jimmy Arnfield was the guest of honour.

The latest episode of a mini series got underway on the Wembley turf- Liverpool's third visit this season having triumphed in the Carling Cup final against Cardiff City in February- as the sides' 31st meeting in the last eight years but for the first time ever in the final of this prestigious competition.

A snapshot at the Reds goal from the first minute from Drogba who linked up well with Frank Lampard went ambitiously over the crossbar as Chelsea made a bright start with both teams beginning with cautious 4-5-1 setups with Ramires down the right flank for the Blues and Gerrard dropping deeper for Liverpool.

Chelsea suffered only a second loss under their interim boss in the midweek 2-0 defeat at home to Newcastle in the Premier League while Liverpool were also beaten 1-0 at Anfield for the first time ever by Fulham but both teams settled nicely into this contest enjoying decent spells of possession in the sunshine on the super smooth surface.


? DID YOU KNOW ?

Chelsea have not beaten Liverpool in their last five meetings in all competitions since May 2010 in a Premier League win at Anfield which clinched the title.


Kenny Dalglish's Reds were pressing Chelsea early forcing them backwards and not allowing the likes of chief creator Frank Lampard and playmaker Juan Mata on the ball. Liverpool weren't getting a good service into their frontman Luis Suarez- who is the only player to reach double figures in terms of goals for them this season- with Jordan Henderson and Jay Spearing ineffective as the nerves got the better of them in the biggest game of their careers so far.

And it was Spearing's sloppiness in possession which contributed to the opening goal as Chelsea broke the deadlock eleven minutes into their eleventh trip to the refurbished national stadium. The young midfielder was caught out and the Brazilian international Ramires, who has suddenly developed a nack of scoring important goals, showed pace and poise to beat Enrique and beat Reina at his near post with the Liverpool keeper making his frustrations clear afterwards by punching the ground angrily. It was another sweet moment for Ramires who scored against Tottenham and Barcelona to help Chelsea reach the FA Cup and Champions League finals while with one goal being good enough for the winners in the last four FA Cup finals Liverpool fans could be forgiven for to starting to panic.

The final looked like it was kicking into action with Liverpool coming immediately at Chelsea with Bellamy seeing his terrific strike bravely blocked by Ivanovic but despite that Luis Suarez- who scored a first Liverpool hat-trick in last weekend's 3-0 victory at Norwich City- was cutting a lonely and iscolated figure throughout in attack. At the other end, only a terrific Agger intervention stopped a positive Kalou run as the Merseyside men struggled to get back into the match while not getting at Chelsea enough. They were beginning to keep the ball for longer spells but were barely going over the halfway line as neither side had got out of second gear thus far.

Mata became influential for the first time in the match when pickpocketing Liverpool players in possession and finding a pass to split open the defence. The know-how of Chelsea looked to be coming through on the pitch with their experienced players running the show with set-pieces and counter attacks looking the likely attacking policy for Liverpool.

Chelsea were coping comfortably as Liverpool left Suarez too isolated. Steven Gerrard was also being forced to drop too deep to offer support to the beleaguered Spearing and Jordan Henderson rather than add attacking potency alongside the Uruguayan. Liverpool did have one moment of danger in the first half when Chelsea failed to clear Glen Johnson's cross and Branislav Ivanovic blocked Craig Bellamy's goalbound shot. 

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

Spurs lost 2-0 to Redknapp's former club Portsmouth two years ago in their last FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

 

Chelsea doubled their lead seven minutes after the restart, with the second coming from their most reliable source of Wembley goals. Frank Lampard escaped Spearing with ease and fed Drogba inside the area, who controlled before sending an angled left-foot finish across Reina.

Liverpool introduced Carroll for Spearing and were rewarded after 64 minutes when he put them back in contention. Stewart Downing blocked Jose Bosingwa's attempted clearance, which fell into the path of Carroll. He turned John Terry superbly before firing high past Cech.

At last Liverpool had impetus and were getting the dangerous Suarez into threatening positions, allowing him to force Cech to save low to his right with an effort from the edge of the area.

Carroll thought he had equalised with his header against the bar with eight minutes left. Liverpool claimed the ball had cross the line and Chelsea were grateful for a miraculous intervention from Cech to turn his effort on to the woodwork. Carroll turned away to lead Liverpool's insistent protests that the ball had crossed the line but referee Phil Dowd and assistant referee Andrew Garratt waved play on, with even a succession of replays proving inconclusive.

He was then denied by a magnificent tackle from captain Terry as Liverpool continued to press - but Chelsea survived as the memories of the nightmare under Villas-Boas faded even further into the background. Chelsea survived and can now turn their attentions to the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in Germany on 19 May as they face an increasingly arduous task to finish in the Premier League's top four.

As Di Matteo celebrated and captain John Terry raised the trophy for the fourth time, the Italian increased his claims to become the permanent successor to Andre Villas-Boas by landing a trophy. For Liverpool, their season will now be regarded as a relative disappointment after failure to add the FA Cup to the Carling Cup and not mounting a challenge to reach the Champions League places. ANALYSIS
Adam Higgins
The Football Site- Chief Football Editor

"I think that Liverpool were unlucky not to lose at the end of the game for the way they responded after conceding a second goal but ultimately you cannot afford to concede goals like they have done in this game. They have proved costly and you shouldn't have to fall a goal or two behind before evoking a reaction from your players- it should be instant from the first minute. The FA Cup final is always a close game won by the odd goal and that proved so today with Chelsea edging it. It wasn't the most entertaining of matches from the neutral point of view but Roberto Di Matteo continues to make such an impact with his side just edging proceedings. It was a great opportunity for Liverpool to show that the Carling Cup win wasn't a one-off and put two trophies in the cabinet but it wasn't to be their day."

 

 

Saturday 5th May 2012

FA Cup Final

Wembley Stadium

 

Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool                                 KO 5:15pm              (HT 1-0)

Ramires 11     Carroll 64
Drogba 52

 

Chelsea:  1 Cech- 7.5/10, 17 Bosingwa- 6.5/10, 26 Terry (C)- 7.5/10, 2 Ivanovic- 7.5/10, 3 A Cole- 7.5/10, 8 Lampard- 8/10, 12 Mikel- 6.5/10, 21 Kalou- 7/10, 10 Mata- 8.5/10 (Malouda 90- 1.5/10), 7 Ramires- 8/10 (Merieles 76- 2.5/10), 11 Drogba- 8/10.

Subs not used:  22 Turnbull, 19 Ferreira, 5 Essien, 9 Torres, 23 Sturridge

Booked:      Mikel (37)

 

Liverpool:  25 Reina- 6.5/10, 2 Johnson- 7.5/10, 37 Skrtel- 7.5/10, 5 Agger- 7/10, 3 Enrique- 6.5/10, 19 Downing- 6.5/10, 14 Henderson- 7.5/10, 20 Spearing- 5.5/10 (Carroll 55- 4.5/10), 8 Gerrard (C)- 7.5/10, 39 Bellamy- 7/10 (Kuyt 78- 2/10), 7 Suarez- 6.5/10.

Subs not used:  32 Doni, 23 Carragher, 34 Kelly, 11 Maxi, 33 Shelvey

Booked:      Agger (45), Suarez (82)

 

My Man of the Match:     Juan Mata (Chelsea)- Rating 8.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:     Jay Spearing (Liverpool)- Rating 5.5/10

 

 

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)- 8.5/10
Assistant Referees: Stuart Burt and Andrew Garratt
Fourth Official: Michael Jones (Cheshire)
Reserve Assistant Referee: Simon Long
Attendance: 89,102 

 

 

Match Facts

Possession: Chelsea- 45%                Liverpool- 55%

Shots: Chelsea- 14                     Liverpool- 18

Shots on target: Chelsea- 6                  Liverpool- 10

Shots off target: Chelsea- 8                   Liverpool- 8

Corners: Chelsea- 1                      Liverpool- 7

Fouls: Chelsea- 5                    Liverpool- 8

Offside: Chelsea- 3                      Liverpool- 4

Assists: Chelsea- Mata, Lampard                 Liverpool- Downing

 

 


Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo

"We’ve still got one more massive trophy and that's the Champions League final on May 19th. That's what our targets have been since the day the owner came in. After that it's down to the board to make their decision. It’s fantastic. This is what we live for, why we are involved in football for- to be part of occasions like this. On the Carroll incident, I spoke honestly in the semifinal about (Juan) Mata’s goal- that one wasn’t over. When he rose you think 'goal' but a great stop from Petr (Cech) and a great clearance off the line from Branislav Ivanovic as well. It was tough in the second half but we dug in - that's what we're all about, digging in deep, Didier chasing back the last minute, making blocks. Everyone was fantastic. The boss [Roman Abramovich] will make a decision at the end of the season. I'm very relaxed about it and the players will be fine. I am very pleased for the players. We have had a difficult season with a lot of criticism but they have responded to all the adversity we have faced. I'm very pleased and satisfied with our performance today. I also think AVB should get some credit because he started us off on this run in the FA Cup."


Click here to listen to the thoughts of the matchwinner Didier Drogba after the match

Click here to hear the thoughts of Chelsea captain John Terry after the FA Cup win

Click here for Juan Mata's views after winning his first silverware for the club

Click here for the thoughts of another trophy for Blues midfielder Mikel after the game

 

 


Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish

"They've been in two cup finals in this season - they'll have enjoyed the first one more than the second. The lads will benefit from the experience. You can't give a team like Chelsea a two-goal head start. They were the best team for the first hour but we finished strongly and maybe if we'd started that way we'd be happier than we are now. I thought it went in but if it hasn't then give the officials the credit they deserve. We've just got to learn our lessons from it and understand we can't start the game like that. I thought it was over the line at first, I will admit to that, and you'll know better than me but I thought it was. I thought it hit the other side of the bar but I haven't seen it back. I think Andy (Carroll) had a few chances and could have put them away but it wasn't to be. We came here to win the game of course, it's been disappointing in the league, we got here and it was unlucky because it would have taken us into extra time. The lads did the best that they possibly could in such a big day in their careers and they were unlucky."

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