Chelsea reached the FA Cup final for the third time in four seasons with a comprehensive,if controversial,5-1 thrashing of London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley late on Sunday.
Goals by Didier Drogba and Juan Mata either side of halftime put Chelsea in command before Gareth Bale replied for Spurs but Ramires,Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda struck again for the Blues who will meet Liverpool in the final next month. Matas strike in the 49th minute proved a major turning point as his shot appeared to have been blocked before the line only for referee Martin Atkinson to award a goal.
In the end the decision did not prove decisive as Chelsea ran riot. The only negatives were a hamstring injury to central defender David Luiz who went off on a stretcher and disrespectful chanting by some Chelsea fans which forced a pre-match silence to mark the anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy to be cut short.
It was a great performance by our team. I think that its a boost of confidence for us, stand-in manager Roberto Di Matteo said. In this case we were on the lucky side but many times before we have had the game going against us. But we didnt score two we scored five.
Chelsea,bidding to win the FA Cup for a sixth time and fourth since 2007,took lead against the run of play. Spurs had just began to enjoy some dominance when,in the 43rd minute,Drogba controlled Lampards lofted forward pass,held off William Gallas and turned to thrash an unstoppable shot past Carlo Cudicini,one of three former Chelsea players wearing Spurs shirts. It was Drogbas seventh goal in nine appearances at Wembley.
John Terry,back from a rib injury,blocked Rafael Van der Vaarts goalbound header on the line and then Van der Vaarts inswinging pass evaded Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor and Chelsea keeper Petr Cech but bounced off the post.
Tottenham began the second half groggily and Mata could have made it 2-0 with a low shot brilliantly saved by Cudicini. Chelsea did not have to wait long to double their lead. Cudicini again made a great save to deny Drogba and when the ball broke to Mata he fired goalwards. The ball appeared to be blocked by the keeper and Terry who was prone on the turf. To the astonishment of Cudicini,the Spurs players and even Terry,the referee Martin Atkinson awarded the goal.
I thought Matas strike hit me and didnt go over,but the linesmans seen it and given it, Terry said. I honestly dont think it went over the line but the linesman gave it and theres nothing we can do about that. Spurs are one of the best sides in the league. It was a great performance and a great result.
Tottenhams goal also had a tinge of controversy. Scott Parker put Adebayor through on goal with a superb pass and when the Togo striker pushed the ball past Cech he was sent tumbling by the keeper. However,Cech escaped any punishment as Bale followed up to score into an empty net.