Late Drogba strike puts Chelsea in FA Cup final
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba struck late to clinch a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday.sports Updated: Apr 19, 2009 01:04 IST
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba struck late to clinch a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday.
The Ivory Coast captain pounced on Frank Lampard's lofted pass with six minutes remaining to give Chelsea their first FA Cup success over Arsenal since 1947.
Neither side were at their best after midweek triumphs in the Champions League and Chelsea had to dig deep after Theo Walcott volleyed Arsenal ahead in the 18th minute.
Chelsea's equaliser came from the unlikely source of winger Florent Malouda before the break.
Arsenal had the better second-half chances before some fatal hesitation by second-choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski let in Drogba who slotted home from a tight angle.
Chelsea will play the winners of Sunday's semi-final between Manchester United and Everton.
Guus Hiddink's Chelsea side appeared to be suffering from the physical effects of their epic 4-4 draw with Liverpool on Tuesday as Arsenal began brightly on Wembley's lush turf.
Apart from one moment early on when Drogba's header was cleared off the line by Arsenal right back Kieran Gibbs it was the north London side who looked brighter.
The first move of real quality put Arsenal in front. Gibbs, deputising at left back for the injured Gael Clichy, combined well with Emmanuel Adebayor and his cut back was met on the volley by Arsenal's other young Englishman Walcott.
His strike was not convincing but a crucial brush off the hand of Chelsea defender Ashley Cole meant it bounced awkwardly and evaded the diving Petr Cech.
Chelsea were level after 33 minutes with the hard-working Lampard, their best player, delivering an inch-perfect diagonal pass to the foot of Malouda.
The big-money signing from Olympique Lyon beat Emmanuel Eboue with embarrassing ease and sent a low shot skidding inside Fabianski's right-hand post.
The goal fired up Chelsea and they dominated until the break with their opponents pinned back inside their own half.
Arsenal recovered their poise after halftime, with Adebayor having a couple of half chances and Robin Van Persie and Abou Diaby agonisingly close to converting Walcott crosses.
The match was drifting towards extra time when Lampard volleyed a high ball over the top and Fabianski opted to sprint out of his area to try and deal with the danger.
He was always struggling to reach it before Drogba and the Chelsea hitman nudged the ball around the stranded Pole before sliding the ball home in front of Chelsea's delirious fans.