Drogba delivers Chelsea double
Didier Drogba's second-half free-kick ensured Premier League champions Chelsea completed a domestic double for the first time in the club's history by beating Portsmouth 1-0 in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Drogba struck in the 59th minute, four minutes after Porstmouth's Kevin-Prince Boateng had missed a penalty, and Carlo Ancelotti's side held on comfortably to complete the win and retain the trophy they won last season.
Chelsea's Frank Lampard also missed a penalty two minutes from time that would have added gloss to the scoreline, but after hitting the woodwork five times during the first half, there was little doubt Ancelotti's team deserved the win.
These two sides have experienced wildly different campaigns and finished the season at opposite ends of the league table. While Chelsea cruised to their first Premier League title in four years by thrashing Wigan 8-0 in their final game the previous weekend, Portsmouth's descent into the Championship had been signalled from the moment they lost their opening seven league games.
Pompey, though, have shown commendable spirit on the closing weeks of the season despite their plight, most notably when they beat Tottenham 2-0 in the FA Cup semi-final.
There seemed to be little chance of an upset on Saturday when Chelsea quickly established control of the game and Lampard twice came close to giving the holders a nerve-settling early goal.
The England midfielder drilled a fourth minute shot narrowly wide after Aaron Mokoena had blocked Nicolas Anelka's shot and then sent a long range effort against the outside of the post ten minutes later.
Portsmouth were largely bystanders as Chelsea settled in their opponents' half and the only way they appeared likely to unsettle Ancelotti's team was by a series of bone-juddering challenges, particularly from Michael Brown on Lampard.
More commendable was the underdogs' determined defending that was epitomised by Mokoena's double block to deny Drogba after Chelsea had worked a slick passing move across their opponents' penalty area.
Portsmouth's threat was minimal although they should have taken the lead in the 22nd minute when they mounted their first serious attack.
Aruna Dindane broke free on the right hand flank, worked his way to the Chelsea by-line and crossed for Boateng whose volley was diverted goalwards by Frederic Piquionne.
Had Chelsea keeper Petr Cech not reacted instinctively to swat the ball away one-handed, the favourites would have suffered an early blow.
Relieved, they responded by increasing the pressure on Portsmouth's goal only for Salomon Kalou to conjure an astonishing miss following left back Ashley Cole's forward run and cross. The Ivorian was just five yards out and facing an open goal out yet he somehow contrived to lift the ball against the bar.
Three minutes later, Blues skipper John Terry headed Florent Malouda's free-kick against James' crossbar before the Pompey keeper tipped Drogba's powerful shot against the woodwork.
And when Drogba hit the post three minutes before the interval - the fifth time Ancelotti's side had hit the woodwork in the first half - there was a growing feeling this might not be Chelsea's day.
By then Michael Ballack had also left the field injured following a crushing challenge by Boateng prompting concerns about his fitness ahead of the World Cup finals.
Portsmouth's confidence had clearly been boosted by their first half survival efforts and they started the second period much more positively.
Boateng volleyed narrowly over in the 51st minute then had an even better chance to score four minutes later when Juliano Belletti - on for Ballack - brought down Dindane to concede a penalty.
Once again, though, Cech came to Chelsea's rescue, saving the Portsmouth midfielder's penalty with his legs and the effect of the miss appeared to puncture Portsmouth's self-belief.
Having received a second warning, Chelsea finally took control of the game when Drogba curled a superb 20-yard free kick around the Portsmouth defensive wall and inside the far post.
Portsmouth's spirit weakened and Lampard blew the chance to wrap up the win when he missed from the spot after being brought down by Brown.