Saturday, March 2, 2024

Drogba, Ramires lead Chelsea to FA Cup win

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LONDON: Chelsea withstood a late Liverpool onslaught to seal their fourth FA Cup final victory in six seasons on Saturday with a 2-1 win at Wembley.

A goal in each half from Brazilian midfielder Ramires and veteran striker Didier Drogba clinched a narrowly deserved win for Chelsea, with substitute Andy Carroll scoring for Liverpool.

The win saw Chelsea skipper John Terry enter the record books as the first man to captain one side to four victories in the competition having already lifted the famous trophy in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

The defeat denied Liverpool the opportunity to end a largely disappointing season with a second piece of silverware following their League Cup triumph over Cardiff in February.

However after controlling much of the game, Champions League finalists Chelsea were made to work hard for their win, and Carroll was denied what would have been a dramatic 82nd-minute equaliser when his close-range header was parried onto the underside of the crossbar by Petr Cech.

Carroll wheeled away to celebrate thinking the ball had crossed the line but referee Phil Dowd and his assistants remained unmoved.

Earlier, Chelsea dominated a poor Liverpool side throughout a poor first half which saw the Merseysiders struggle to get into the game.

The Blues took the lead on 11 minutes through a Ramires strike that owed everything to poor play from Liverpool

Liverpool might have got back into the match almost immediately, only for Branislav Ivanovic to thwart Craig Bellamy’s fierce volley on 14 minutes with a gutsy block.

Yet that was as good as it got for Liverpool for the remainder of the half, with Cech having little to do in the Chelsea goal.

Liverpool started the second half more purposefully, with Gerrard producing one surging run into the box and Downing looking lively down the flank.

But Chelsea delivered a hammer blow on 52 minutes when Drogba pounced, rifling home a low left foot shot after being picked out in space by Frank Lampard.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish responded immediately by bringing on Carroll for the ineffectual Spearing but it was Chelsea who continued to look the more threatening of the two sides. Drogba lashed a volley into the side netting but then the momentum shifted dramatically when Carroll pulled one back for Liverpool. The £35 million striker pounced after Jose Bosingwa’s clearance ricocheted into his path, wrong-footing Terry to fire high into the net.

It was all Liverpool thereafter, with the Reds galvanised by the presence of Carroll in the front line.

Luis Suarez forced a low save from Cech on 73 minutes before Carroll headed just over three minutes later.

Carroll was then denied his headed equaliser eight minutes from time but although Liverpool pressed they were unable to find a way through a resolute Chelsea rearguard action. (Agencies)

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