May 5 2012 By Yann Tear
Ramires Image 2
Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool - FA Cup Final
NEVER mind Battersea. Chelsea should do everything they can to relocate at Wembley if they possibly can.
Joy was unconfined in the west wing of the stadium as Blues fans – loving it in their home from home - celebrated yet another triumph at English football's headquarters.
It was looking like a stroll with the game entering the last half an hour, but Liverpool, 2-0 down and anaemic, suddenly got into the game with Andy Carroll goal and the Blues needed a huge slice of luck to survive a furious barrage in the game's final quarter.
No more so than eight minutes from time when Cech thrust up an arm at a Carroll header from close range to send the striker's effort onto the underside of the bar.
Liverpool pleaded that the ball had crossed the line. Replays suggested the linesman got the call right. For Cech, it was another in a line of very special contributions for his team down the years.
An 11th minute goal from Ramires – one of the quartet of player unavailable in Munich and intent on making the most of this occasion - set Chelsea on their way to their seventh win in seven FA Cup ties at the new stadium, and a fourth final victory in only six seasons.
Didier Drogba doubled the lead after 52 minutes to keep up his astonishing record of scoring in every Wembley game he has ever played in – discounting Community Shield matches. That is eight semi-finals and finals.
He certainly has Wembley etched on his heart. If the club do one day relocate to the home of the famous south London power station by the Thames – the club have put in a bid for the land at Battersea - Drogba may be tempted to leave a blue plaque at Wembley rather than Stamford Bridge.
The benched Fernando Torres, even with his vastly improved form of late, could not have been surprised at being omitted from the starting line-up.
This win, with Munich still to come, is not bad for a team supposedly washed up a few months ago under Andre Villas Boas.
It felt for all the world like a re-run of 2009. For Gus Hiddink, picking up the pieces after the Scolari catastrophe, read Roberto Di Matteo. This success must have tasted every bit as good as the ones he experienced as a player in two finals for the Blues as a match winner.
His jig of delight on the turf at the final whistle certainly implied it.
Ramires' goal was simplicity itself. The Brazilian, so full of running down the right flank, raced onto an angled pass from Juan Mata, outstripped left back Jose Enrique and drilled past Pepe Reina at the near post – the Liverpool keeper getting a hand to the ball, but unable to prevent it finding the net.
Drogba's goal was another piece of classic finishing from the Ivorian. Frank Lampard eased past Jay Spearing and found the striker lurking on the edge of the area.
Drogba's touch was perfect, giving him space for a left foot strike across Reina before Martin Skrtel could get close enough to block.
Chelsea's only moment of consternation during a first half they controlled throughout came not long after the opening goal.
Bransilav Ivanovic's clearing header from a Glenn Johnson cross fell nicely for Craig Bellamy to volley back towards goal, but the Serb, standing in front of Petr Cech, got in the way.
So lame were the Reds overall that it was hard to see a way back for them. But Carroll's strike into the roof of the net – sidestepping John terry to sweep the ball home after Jose Bosingwa had been dispossessed on the right flank – set up a thrilling finale that the Blues did just enough to survive.
Chelsea: Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard, Ramires (Meireles 77); Mata (Malouda 90), Drogba, Kalou. Subs not used: Turnbull, Essien, Torres, Ferreira, Sturridge.
Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Henderson, Spearing (Carroll 55), Gerrard, Downing; Bellamy (Kuyt 79), Suarez. Subs not used: Doni, Kelly, Rodriguez, Carragher, Shelvey.