Lampard gifts Chelsea FA Cup delight despite Everton’s dream start
Chelsea recovered from conceding the fastest goal in FA Cup final history to beat Everton 2-1 on Saturday and win the trophy for the fifth time.
Louis Saha had put Everton 1-0 ahead after just 25 seconds at Wembley, but Didier Drogba equalized in the 21st minute and Frank Lampard struck the winner 18 minutes from the end. The comeback clinched Chelsea's first trophy in two years and gave Guus Hiddink the perfect farewell in his final match before stepping down as manager.
The victory could have been even more convincing had the referee awarded Florent Malouda a goal in the 78th minute. The France winger's 30-meter (yard) shot hit the bar and bounced down, but he struck it so hard that it was impossible for the referee to tell whether it had gone over the line as television replays indicated it had.
Chelsea had other chances, most notably when Nicolas Anelka lobbed wide with the outside of his boot and Malouda lifted a shot over goalkeeper Tim Howard and the bar from close range. The open nature of the match defied predictions from many fans and commentators of a cagey match.
The teams drew both their Premier League meetings this season 0-0, but Everton attacked right after kicking off. Steven Pienaar looked to be offside when the ball was played up the left wing to him, but he was allowed to play on and drop back to cross into the area. Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel headed out the ball, but it wasn't cleared properly and Marouane Fellaini headed it over to Saha just inside the area, from when France striker turned and smashed a shot past goalkeeper Petr Cech. The goal beat the previous quickest in a Wembley final by 18 seconds and was still 5 seconds quicker than the winner Bob Chatt scored for Aston Villa in the 1895 FA Cup final, which was played at Crystal Palace in south London.
But Chelsea countered Everton's early success and pressure with some precise passing play, much of which was channeled down the left wing through Malouda.
With fullback Tony Hibbert drifting infield in an apparent attempt to help out Joseph Yobo against Drogba, Malouda found plenty of space. He made the most of it when he collected Lampard's looping pass out of a crowd of players and sent in a curling cross that the unmarked Drogba met with a header into the back of the net. It was Drogba's second FA Cup final after he scored the extra-time winner in Chelsea's 2007 victory over Manchester United. Hibbert was replaced by Lars Jacobsen for the second half and Tim Cahill pushed forward in attack, letting Fellaini drop further back into a more defensive midfield role.
The switch improved Everton and the Toffees had plenty of possession but could muster only two chances by Louis Saha and one from Cahill.