FA Cup Semi-Final
Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Chelsea



John Terry on the line looks to keep the ball out of the Spurs net with a melee of players in close proximity but the goal is given 


By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from Wembley Stadium 

A hugely contentious moment helped Chelsea obliterate London rivals Tottenham to set up an FA Cup final meeting next month with Liverpool.  

The controversy surrounded Chelsea's second goal early in the second half which was adjudged to have crossed the line by the officials after Juan Mata shot towards goal. Didier Drogba put the Blues ahead at the end of an even first period with an exquisite piece of forward play. Gareth Bale profited from Cech's foul on Adebayor to tap home to bring eight-time winners of the competition Spurs back into the game but further goals from Ramires, Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda put the icing on the cake and send Chelsea into another Wembley final showpiece.

Roberto Di Matteo, who has never lost to Tottenham as a player or manager, made five changes to the Chelsea side which drew 1-1 with Fulham on Monday night in the Premier League. Branislav Ivanovic was suspended after the FA retrospectively punished him for an incident in the side's 2-1 victory over Wigan last weekend meaning Bosingwa came into defence along with David Luiz and Ashley Cole. The latter returning after an ankle injury to replace Ryan Bertrand who was ruled out with his own calf injury. Oriol Romeu missed out with illness while Drogba replaced Torres upfront and Mata came in for Raul Merieles.  

Younes Kaboul's injury in the 2-1 defeat against Norwich on Easter Monday left Spurs boss Harry Redknapp with just two fit first-team central defenders with William Gallas and Ledley King both playing. Skipper King played his second match in a week despite his chronic knee problems. Scott Parker returned to midfield as Spurs reverted to their regular 4-4-1-1 setup wih Rafael Van der Vaart playing just behind former Arsenal forward Emmanuel Adebayor. Niko Kranjcar ruled himself out of contention this week after picking up a knee injury in training.

Like the Premier League match between the two sides last month, a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge, the match started slowly with Chelsea looking more compulsive on the attack and Spurs slightly more comfortable in possession and seeing more of the ball. Drogba's early free-kick dipped up and over but not back down. It was a similar position to the one where he struck a perfect dead-ball in the Carling Cup final defeat against Spurs in 2008. The Lilywhites' first scurge forward saw Gareth Bale released down the left by a delightful Modric pass but his cross was too high for Aaron Lennon to reach.

Chelsea were settling quicker in possession and looking more assertive. Their durability was evident as ever as their experienced and ageing squad- with an average age of 28 for the starting players- put their FA Cup pedigree on the line. A cynical trip by Didier Drogba on Lennon brought the game's first yellow card on 16 minutes from referee Martin Atkinson- who was also in charge of the league meeting three weeks previously.


The six-times FA Cup winners Chelsea, who have lifted the cup in three of the last six seasons, have lost only two of the last 32 FA Cup matches before this match - one of those being on penalties.

Chances were few and far between in the first half but the last ten minutes sparked the game to life. First, Kalou ran down the left hand side iscolating Kyle Walker before sliding through a well-timed pass albeit slightly overhit towards Juan Mata who just couldn't bring the ball under control in time and former Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini- who has been Spurs' cup choice this season- was alive in mind and body.

Chelsea had shaded the proceedings up until this point although Spurs came close themselves with Lennon standing a cross up sidefooted for Van der Vaart to head towards goal three yards out which at first looked to have brought good reflexes out of Petr Cech but replays showed that Blues skipper John Terry had kept the Dutchman's header out. The defender taking up a position behind his goalkeeper to clear. Then Van der Vaart viciously whipped into the box which was intended as a cross but bounced awkwardly before hitting the post.

The half was lit up by a world class moment from Didier Drogba- who has scored previously in three FA Cup semi-finals, three FA Cup finals and three League Cup finals. In the 43rd minute, a long ball tossed forward by Frank Lampard was chested down by the strong Ivorian who muscled off William Gallas, turning the French defender in the process before hitting an unstoppable shot past Cudicini. It was something brilliant out of nothing and yet another Wembley goal for him to shout about.

A cagey affair turned even more so at the start of the second period when the controversy arose. Juan Mata- who minutes earlier had been kept out by a fine fingertip save from Cudicini- sidefooted towards goal at the back post as a corner couldn't be cleared. A melee of players in and around the goal area looked to either clear the ball or put it in the net and a touch of John Terry's boot on the line looked to have kept the ball out with Assou-Ekotto in the vicinity of the goal desperate to stop the ball from going in. The ball was far from crossing over although referee Martin Atkinson indicated a goal- with no interference from the nearby assistant referee Mick McDonough. Spurs were incensed and quick to surround the referee. The goal thus awarded which was Mata's fourth of the cup run but the astonishing decision from the officials was reminiscent of the "goal" that was allowed to stand in the Premier League meeting at the Bridge last year when Frank Lampard's shot trickled out of the gloves of Gomes who recovered to keep it out. The assistant flagged to inform the referee that the whole of the ball had crossed the line- which it hadn't.


Spurs had won half of their 18 previous semi-final appearances before this one, but have been unsuccessful in the most recent five - included two seasons ago against Harry Redknapp's former club Portsmouth.  

Spurs felt that they had been hard done by but they didn't let their heads drop and were back in the semi-final within minutes when Parker's pass sent Adebayor away clean through on goal. Cech came out and appeared to wipe out the striker although he was spared a red card and the conceding of a penalty when Gareth Bale was closeby to tap into the empty net and halve the deficit. David Luiz was stretchered off having injured himself in the build-up to the Spurs goal and was replaced by Gary Cahill- a losing semi-finalist last season with Bolton who were beaten 5-0 by Stoke City.

The impetus looked to be with the fourth-placed Premier League team but the side directly below them in the table had opportunities during an incident-packed second period to increase the lead further with the recently arrived substitute Cahill- who scored on his last appearance on Wembley turf for England against Holland in an international friendly- swivelling and firing over the bar inside the box.

Harry Redknapp- whose only piece of silverware as a manager came in the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008- brought on Jermain Defoe off the bench to try and up the ante in an attempt to equalise. Spurs started to pour more men forward when attacking and showed promise with Ledley King posing a threat from corner kicks. But with the pressure mounting, it was Chelsea who scored next to make it a comfortable 3-1 scoreline when Mata and Lampard linked up well before the Spaniard lofted a pass towards Ramires- played onside by Walker- who cooly lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper. Assou-Ekotto was also culpable for failing to track the mazy run of the Brazilian.

Before long there was even more daylight between the two teams when Lampard smashed a free-kick from thirty yards which was wonderfully hit with dip and bend which flew past Cudicini- who stepped in the wrong direction leaving himself exposed and ultimately helpless when trying to get across to save it. It was Lampard's tenth goal against Spurs in his career and one which sparred a mass exodus from the Tottenham fans who left in their numbers showing they had witnessed enough heartache for one evening.

The scoring didn't end there and the extra goals seemed to lessen the controversy of the second Chelsea goal which this game will be forever remembered for. Chelsea were definitely heading to an eleventh FA Cup final once substitute Florent Malouda added more gloss. The Frenchman tucked away nicely underneath the body of ex-colleague Cudicini after racing onto a first-time dinked pass from Mata in the fourth minute of stoppage time. It left a smile on the face of interim boss Di Matteo- who won two FA Cup winners medals during his playing career with the Blues.

The triumph in the heavyweight battle means an eleventh appearance for the Blues at the refurbished new Wembley stadium and a chance for a number of players to add another FA Cup medal to their collections. It meant their Italian coach remains with one defeat since taking over from Villas-Boas until the end of the season. A Champions League semi-final against Barcelona upcoming on Wednesday followed by a trip to Arsenal in the Premier League next weekend. It would be a massive achievement if they can come out of the two games unscathed and pride still intact. Pride is something Spurs lost in this one and the chance of a trophy for this season went with it. They will need to dust themselves down in time to visit struggling Queens Park Rangers in the Saturday teatime match.


Adam Higgins
The Football Site- Chief Football Editor

"Spurs had some good spells in the match but ultimately they were sank by the poorest of decisions from the officials. That really killed what had been an even game upto that moment. I don't know how the referee can see whether the ball has crossed the line or not from where he was. In the end, Chelsea ran out easy winners thanks to the quality of Didier Drogba scoring a world class goal to break the deadlock. He is a man for the big occasions and he certainly turned up for this one. They took their chances well and their experience of getting through games of this magnitude stood them in good stead for doing the job and yet another FA Cup final to look forward to now on the horizon. This could be the last chance for some of the Chelsea "old guard" to appear at Wembley in a cup final and show their steel for a final time so it would be nice for them to get the victory in the final to further improve Di Matteo's CV." 



Sunday 15th April 2012

FA Cup Semi-Final

Wembley Stadium


Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Chelsea                        KO 6pm             (HT 0-1)

Bale 56                      Drogba 43
                                Mata 49
                                Ramires 77
                                Lampard 81
                                Malouda 90+3


Tottenham:  23 Cudicini- 7/10, 28 Walker- 6.5/10, 26 King (C)- 6.5/10, 13 Gallas- 5/10, 32 Assou-Ekotto- 6.5/10, 7 Lennon- 6/10, 8 Parker- 6.5/10 (Sandro 90+1- 1/10), 11 Van der Vaart- 6/10 (Defoe 75- 2.5/10), 3 Bale- 6.5/10, 14 Modric- 6/10, 10 Adebayor- 7/10.

Subs not used:  24 Friedel, 33 Nelsen, 25 Rose, 29 Livermore, 17 Dos Santos

Booked:      Gallas (80), Adebayor (90+1), Parker (90+2)


Chelsea:  1 Cech- 6.5/10, 17 Bosingwa- 6/10, 26 Terry (C)- 8/10, 4 David Luiz- 7/10 (Cahill 59- 4.5/10), 3 Cole- 7/10, 7 Ramires- 8/10 (Malouda 82- 3/10), 8 Lampard- 8/10, 12 Mikel- 7/10, 10 Mata- 7.5/10, 11 Drogba- 8.5/10 (Torres 84- 2/10), 21 Kalou- 6.5/10.

Subs not used:  22 Turnbull, 5 Essien, 16 Merieles, 23 Sturridge

Booked:      Drogba (16), Mikel (90+2)


My Man of the Match:      Didier Drogba (Chelsea)- Rating 8.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:      William Gallas (Tottenham)- Rating 5/10



Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)- 6/10
Attendance: 85,731 



Match Facts

Possession: Tottenham- 49%            Chelsea- 51%

Shots: Tottenham- 8             Chelsea- 16

Shots on target: Tottenham- 6              Chelsea- 10

Shots off target: Tottenham- 2              Chelsea- 6

Corners: Tottenham- 8               Chelsea- 8

Fouls: Tottenham- 8               Chelsea- 8

Offside: Tottenham- 1                Chelsea- 1

Assists: Tottenham- Adebayor            Chelsea- Lampard, Terry, Mata (2), Drogba



Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp

"Well, the second goal was a disaster. It was nowhere near a goal. It was a huge mistake from the referee. We looked too open after that and they picked us off scoring more goals than we should have left them. It was a key decision, a key goal and at a key time. He's made a big mistake. I don't see how he can give the goal. It's nowhere near over the line. He can't even see and he didn't even consult the other officials- not even his linesman. That is incredibly frustrating and shows the need for video technology. We were playing quite well in the first half, we were behind to a world class goal from Didier Drogba but we deserved to get back into the game. It was always going to be difficult to get back into the game when 2-0 down against a side with the quality that Chelsea possess. There were bodies on the line for the second goal and if there was a system in place then it would have picked it up. We cannot keep having situations such as this. I went into see the referee afterwards and he has admitted the mistake. He says he feels worse than I do. I don't think so. He knows he has made a mistake and he said he will have a bad week."

Click here for the post-match interview with Spurs skipper Ledley King



Chelsea interim manager Roberto Di Matteo

"I talked before about the consistency of using video technology throughout the whole game recently and I reiterate it again. I know that Harry (Redknapp) is unhappy and quite rightly so. I think we have to see technology come into the game after so many high-profile incidents- maybe not just for certain aspects of the game but some others as well. Sometimes these decisions go for you, sometimes they don't. It definitely didn't cross the line and this incident will be what the match will be remembered for. The referee will be disappointed when he looks back at it. We deserved a bit of luck I thought. Certainly we rode our luck during the match. We put on a great performance for the fans and it is the perfect warm-up for Barcelona during the week. I though we played very well today, the movement of the ball and the passing today was very good and the goals as well."

Click here for the interview with Blues caretaker boss Di Matteo after the game

Click here for the post-match interview with Blues captain John Terry

Click here for the post-match interview with Chelsea's Frank Lampard


Match highlights of Tottenham vs Chelsea


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