Chelsea defeat Liverpool to win FA Cup
Chelsea won their fourth FA Cup in six seasons today as they held off a Liverpool fightback and avoided another 'ghost' goal to triumph again at Wembley.
Didier Drogba became the first man to score in four cup finals, John Terry became the first captain to lift the cup four times at the home of football and Ramires became the first Brazilian to net in a cup final as caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo maintained his remarkable record in major finals to boost his own job prospects.
Andy Carroll came off the bench to set up a grandstand finish and thought he had equalised late on, but the officials appeared to correctly deem Petr Cech had kept his header out and Chelsea held on.
Other than a wayward Drogba half-volley, there was little to recommend during the opening exchanges until Liverpool conceded a truly horrible goal from their point of view in the 11th minute.
Chelsea broke from their own area and Juan Mata released the onrushing Ramires, who too easily shrugged off Jose Enrique and fired a near-post shot that Reina should have saved but embarrassingly helped into the net.
More poor defending almost gifted Liverpool a quickfire equaliser, Branislav Ivanovic clearing Glen Johnson's cross straight to Bellamy, whose first-time shot was blocked by Terry. Reina was left red-faced again after failing to gather a mishit Ramires cross, while Lampard was let down by a heavy touch on the edge of the box.
Chelsea were in cruise control, with Salomon Kalou almost slaloming his way through on goal, although an Agger burst forward briefly exposed their defence. Di Matteo's men were posing marginally the greater threat as the half wore on but they rightly picked up the game's first yellow card eight minutes from half-time when John Obi Mikel dived in on Gerrard on halfway.
Drogba flashed well wide from 30 yards trying to become the first man to score in four cup finals, while Luis Suarez - who had hardly been in the game - failed to get a proper header on Jordan Henderson's flick-on. Agger followed Mikel into the book in the final minute of the half after upending the midfielder.
Liverpool needed to change something in midfield and it was formation rather than personnel at the restart as they went 4-4-2, but they were almost immediately undone by a Cole dart forward, with Agger coming to the rescue.
Terry also hooked over from a corner after being manhandled by Martin Skrtel before Gerrard tried to inject some inspiration with a trademark surge only to run into the back of Ivanovic.
Drogba bags his fourth final goal
Moments later, Chelsea doubled their lead in the 52nd minute, Lampard turning Jay Spearing and finding Drogba. Skrtel's non-challenge was risible as Drogba fired left-footed through the Slovakian's legs and into the net, to claim his fourth strike in the FA Cup final.
Petr Cech was finally forced into a save when Suarez tried his luck from a tight angle before Dalglish sent on semi-final hero Carroll for Spearing. But although Chelsea threatened to punish them further on the break, the change paid off thanks to more poor defending in the 64th minute.
Jose Bosingwa allowed himself to be tackled by Stewart Downing, with the ball breaking to Carroll, who turned Terry inside out before lashing home. Liverpool were suddenly on top and Henderson, Johnson and Gerrard all had wild strikes from distance.
Suarez was also having more and more of an impact and Cech got down well to tip his near-post effort wide, while Carroll twice got underneath headers as he threatened to rescue Liverpool from defeat.
Chelsea responded 13 minutes from time by sending on Raul Meireles for Ramires, with Liverpool throwing on Dirk Kuyt for Bellamy. That happened while Drogba went down seemingly hurt, much to the ire of the Liverpool fans.
Bosingwa was threatening to single-handedly surrender the cup for Chelsea as Henderson blazed over again from 20 yards.
Cech saves the day
Incredibly, with less than nine minutes remaining, there was another incident to rival the 'ghost' goals both sides had scored in previous matches when Carroll thought he had headed in Suarez's cross.
Carroll and Suarez were adamant it should have been given but replays appeared to show Cech had produced one of the best-ever cup final saves to turn the ball onto the crossbar to keep it out.
Skrtel then looked certain to equalise when he found himself in acres of space but Ivanovic recovered to block.
With Liverpool laying siege to the Chelsea goal, Di Matteo withdrew Mata for Florent Malouda in stoppage-time and Lampard went close to sealing it with a free-kick.