Apr 15 2012 By Yann Tear
Didier Drogba Image 4
Chelsea 5-1 Tottenham - FA Cup semi-final
DIDIER Drogba's extraordinary love affair with Wembley propelled Chelsea towards yet another final at the new stadium.
But the Blues needed a huge slice of good fortune on their way to booking a date with Liverpool in the final on May 5.
Replays suggested their second goal should not have stood - Juan Mata's shot looking as if it came nowhere near to crossing the line.
The Spaniard rolled a ball goalwards after Cudicini kept out a header from David Luiz, but Benoit Assou-Ekotto's studs kept the ball from crossing the line.
Or so it appeared. Ref Martin Atkinson thought otherwise.
He had to make the call, given that the linesman on the far side would have been unsighted by a scrum of players on the line and he was standing close to the action, but from Spurs' point of view, not close enough.
Fortunately for the officials, the controversy was diffused by the rampant Blues, who added three more goals as Spurs capitulated.
A sublime goal from Ramires on 77 minutes removed the prospect of heady injustice lingering in the air – the Brazilian nipping the ball past Carlo Cudicini after Mata had floated in a lovely chip into the box.
Then Frank Lampard powered in a free-kick from 25 yards – the set piece arising after Drogba had been tripped by William Gallas, who endured a miserable evening.
In stoppage time, Mata executed another perfect chip for sub Florent Malouda to slip home – completing Tottenham's misery.
The hope now is that the momentum of an astonishing second half will spill over into Wednesday night when Barcelona come to the Bridge.
If there was a debate beforehand about whether Drogba or Fernando Torres should start, then to most Chelsea fans, and crucially to Roberto Di Matteo, it was a no brainer.
If anyone should recognise a player who feels at home in this corner of London, it is the interim Chelsea boss of course – having netted in two previous finals in the old stadium.
The Ivorian netted the winner in the first FA Cup final back in north west London following its sojourn in south Wales and he has been banging them in at the home of football ever since.
He netted the winning goal in 2010 and another in the 2009 victory over Everton – and that is before you start considering semi-finals.
There had been very little of menace in the Chelsea attacks before the 43rd minute, when Drogba took delivery of a 50 yard ball down the centre from Lampard.
He used his strength to hold off Gallas, then turned and rifled an unstoppable left footer past Cudcini. It was vintage stuff from a man who loves these occasions more than anyone.
A goal for Drogba against Chelsea in the 2008 Carling Cup final ultimately did the Blues no good, as they lost 2-1 in the end, but here they gained perfect revenge.
Three minutes into the second half and the Blues found they had luck as well as familiarity with the surroundings on their side when Mata made it 2-0 in hugely controversial circumstances.
Mata, who had forced the Spurs keeper into a fine save moments earlier, wheeled away in delight.
Not that there was too much time to bask in the lead, because Gareth Bale pulled a goal back on 56 minutes – touching home after Emmanuel Adebayor had raced onto a ball down the centre from Scott Parker and touched it wide of Petr Cech as the keeper rushed out to meet him.
Had Bale not been there to score, Cech might well have received a red card for his challenge.
That looked likely to herald a close finish, but far from it as the Blues ran riot in an action-packed second half that was in stark contrast to the first.
Tottenham had the better of it before Drogba's goal dramtically altered the course of the game. John Terry came to Chelsea's rescue on 36 minutes when he cleared a Rafael Van der Vaart header off the line after Aaron Lennon had clipped a ball back across goal.
Three minutes later and Adebayor ghosted onto an inswinger from Van der Vaart and although he appeared not to get a touch, his presence threw Cech, who could only watch as the ball rebounded off his right hand post.
Spurs would say that summed up an evening of ill fortune for them. For Chelsea, though, a fourth FA Cup final in six seasons awaits.
Line up: Cech; Bosingwa, Luiz (Cahill 59), Terry, Cole; Lampard, Mikel, Mata; Ramires (Malouda 82), Drogba (Torres 84), Kalou. Subs not used; Turnbull, Essien, Meireles, Sturridge. Attendance: 85,731