Chelsea 1-0 Portsmouth: Drogba strike earns Blues first Double
By Joe Carroll.
Chelsea have won the F.A Cup after a 1-0 win against Portsmouth that far from reflects the true events that befell a full capacity crowd at Wembley. The Londoners lifted the trophy for the second consecutive year thanks to a 59th minute free-kick from Didier Drogba. Whilst the narrow scoreline suggests an even affair, the reality was anything but; however Chelsea’s dominance did not stop Portsmouth almost nicking the trophy. To say that Pompey rode their luck would be an incredible understatement, with Chelsea hitting the Wembley woodwork no less than five times in the first half. The second half also saw a penalty awarded to each team, both of which were wasted.
The game began in typical fashion, with Chelsea penning Portsmouth into their own half whilst bombarding David James’ goal with wave after wave of attack. Frank Lampard was given too much time on the ball and let fly with a strike from 20 yards. So often is the scene of jubilant Chelsea fans dancing to the sight of a Lampard shot, however Blues fans could only be seen holding the heads in disbelief as the ball rattled against the post and out for a goal kick.
As expected, Portsmouth seemed content to soak up this pressure whilst relying on the pace of forwards Aruna Dindane and Frederic Piquionne to relieve Pompey on the counter. With the barrage that was about to come Portsmouth’s way, this seemed a very risky tactic, but one that almost paid off in the 21st minute.
Dindane crossed from the right with Piquionne and Kevin Prince-Boateng lurking. The latter met the delivery with a strong right foot volley which was diverted suddenly by Piquionne on its way towards goal. Chelsea’s Petr Cech could not have been better placed, and despite the last second deflection from the Frenchman, managed to throw up a hand which guided the ball away from harm, preventing a certain goal in the process.
Chelsea knew the chance was a huge let-off, and promptly went about breaking the deadlock. They stepped up their efforts to bring the cup home and would have seen their name on the trophy by half-time had it not been for James’ goal frame which took as central a role in this final than any other player. Salomon Kalou should have been the first scorer in the referee’s notebook; instead he was the first of many Chelsea players to be denied by the woodwork.
The Ivorian was perfectly placed and completely unmarked as Ashley Cole centred from the left, and with an open goal the forward could do nothing but direct the ball into an empty net. Unfortunately, his placed shot was high and the ball bounced back off the crossbar as Cole looked on in utter disbelief.
A deep free kick moments later resulted in John Terry also finding the crossbar with a strong header that had James beaten, and not long after the busy crossbar again came to the rescue of an extremely fortunate Portsmouth side. Another free kick was awarded and this time it was Drogba who was to be denied by the bar. From a central position the Ivorian struck a powerful right footed attempt that James incidentally did very well to get his fingertips to. The slightest of touches from the England stopper made the difference between the ball hitting the back of his net, and the ball bouncing agonisingly on the line after crashing the underside of the bar. Unfortunately for the onlooking Chelsea boss it was the latter, and Carlo Ancelotti and the rest of his team could not believe the scores were still level.
Drogba went close again just before the break as Portsmouth’s defence failed to clear a cross. The ball fell kindly for Chelsea’s leading scorer but the post was again making the difference as he poked the ball past the on rushing James. The two teams went in at half-time still level- Chelsea feeling hard done by, Portsmouth feeling the presence of Lady Luck.
When the second half resumed Chelsea resumed their dominance. The team were playing some of their best football and were doing everything but scoring. Rather than run out, Portsmouth’s luck appeared to have increased as they were awarded a penalty with 10 minutes gone. In all honesty, there was nothing lucky about the decision as substitute Juliano Belletti scythed down Boateng as he raced into the box.
Boateng raised himself up to take the penalty as well as the responsibility of realising the hopes of every Pompey fan watching. The resulting effort was poorly struck however, and his scuffed shot met the legs of Cech who once again kept the ball out to keep Chelsea in a game that, despite their dominance could have seen them behind.
Like Portsmouth’s chance in the first half, the penalty save jolted Chelsea into action. A free kick was awarded to the Londoners just to the left of the Pompey area, roughly 25 yards from goal. Drogba had already been denied twice by post and crossbar and he was desperate to see his third attempt go in. There was nothing James could do about this attempt and Drogba struck with both pace and precision, side footing it perfectly to James’ left. The post only aided the ball nestling in the back of the net and Drogba’s fine goal scoring form at Wembley continued.
Chelsea had a penalty of their own in the dying minutes of the game, after seeing off a struggling Portsmouth team who looked out of ideas. Lampard should have made the scoreline look a fairer reflection on the game’s proceedings, however the man usually so clinical from 12 yards spurred the opportunity, dragging his shot just wide.
Chris Foy blew his whistle to the sound of ecstatic Chelsea fans who had just witnessed their club’s first ever league and cup double. Far from languishing in the memories of their last manager to bring them success, Ancelotti achieved a feat that has banished talk of ‘the Special One’, forever writing himself into the club’s history books. If Mourinho’s achievements were special, then Ancelotti in his first season in charge has brought success simply out of this world.
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