Chelsea sealed their first league and cup double with a 1-0 win in the FA Cup Final against Portsmouth, at Wembley Stadium.
After hitting the woodwork five (yes, five!) times in the first half, Chelsea looked like they would pay when Portsmouth were awarded a penalty, but Petr Cech’s penalty save closely followed by Didier Drogba’s free kick, saw Chelsea close out a deserved victory.
Chelsea were unchanged from the side that thrashed Wigan Athletic 8-0, meaning that Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry were both passed fit. Portsmouth lost Hassan Yebda on match morning, so he was replaced by Papa Bouba Diop, whilst Hayden Mullins took the place of the injured Marc Wilson. Jamie O’Hara was also fit to start.
Portsmouth had been given early warning by Frank Lampard who fired wide from the edge of the box, before the frame of the goal was rattled for the first time by the Chelsea number 8, whose thirty yard effort swerved into the far upright.
Nicolas Anelka forced a save from David James, before Cech made one of the saves of the season, reacting like lightning to turn away Frederic Piquionne’s touch from three yards out. It was an unbelievably good save.
Salomon Kalou hit the bar from five yards after being set up by Ashley Cole before Terry’s towering header also came back off the bar from a Florent Malouda free kick. There was still time for Drogba to hit the bar twice, once with a swerving 35 yard free kick that took a touch from James and landed on the line, and the next with a poke under the body of the Pompey keeper, after Aaron Mokoena and Steve Finnan made a hash of clearing.
Juliano Belletti replaced the injured Michael Ballack late on in the first half, but gave away a penalty early in the second. Kevin-Prince Boateng stepped up and went low down the middle, but Cech, having committed to his right, reacted quickly enough to save with his feet. It was turning into a vintage cup final performance from the man in yellow.
Within two minutes, the Blues were finally in front. Drogba took charge of the free kick, whipping it around the wall and past James, via the post. At last, the woodwork was kind to Chelsea! The King of Wembley had struck again.
Lampard won a penalty of his own in the dying moments, but uncharacteristically dragged it wide. Daniel Sturridge, so impressive in the cup campaign, made an appearance in injury time, as Chelsea closed out the win.
Drogba’s goal was his 37th of the season and his third in cup finals at Wembley, whilst Cech became just the third keeper to save a penalty in the showpiece event.
Make mine a Double!