Season | 2009-10 |
Matchday | #46 |
Manager Game | #184 |
Saturday, 10 April 2010
FA Cup | Semi Final | Neutral | Chelsea | Wembley Stadium | 85,472 |
Manager | Martin O’Neill
KO | 17.00 |
Referee | Howard Webb |
HT Score | 0-0 |
FT Score | 0-3 |
FT Result | Lost |
Last 5 Games | DDLWL |
Line Up |
GK Brad Friedel |
LB Stephen Warnock |
CB James Collins |
CB Carlos Cuéllar |
CB Richard Dunne |
M Stiliyan Petrov |
W Ashley Young |
W Stewart Downing |
W James Milner |
CF John Carew | SUB OFF | 82' |
F Gabby Agbonlahor |
CF Emile Heskey for CF John Carew | 82’ |
Unused Substitutes |
RB Habib Beye
M Fabian Delph
M Steve Sidwell
F Nathan Delfouneso
GK Brad Guzan
RB Luke Young
Team Stats |
Starting XI Average Age | 28.44 |
Oldest Player | GK Brad Friedel | 38.92 |
Youngest Player | F Gabby Agbonlahor | 23.51 |
Match Stats |
Possession F | 52
Possession A | 48
Shots F | 7
Shots A | 17
Shots on Target F | 3
Shots on Target A | 11
Corners F | 6
Corners A | 7
Fouls F | 11
Fouls A | 20
Saturday, 10 April 2010
*Holders Chelsea moved a step closer to the club’s first Double by seeing off a stubborn Aston Villa side to reach the FA Cup final for the second successive year.*
In a game largely ruined by the latest incarnation of the much-maligned Wembley pitch, Didier Drogba broke the deadlock midway through the second half before late goals by Florent Malouda and Frank Lampard made the scoreline look more emphatic than was deserved.
Villa responded to losing 7-1 to the Premier League leaders a fortnight earlier with a performance of industry and desire and their manager Martin O’Neill will also believe his side should have had a first-half penalty when Jon Mikel Obi clumsily felled Gabriel Agbonlahor inside the area.
O’Neill was hoping to reach for his first FA Cup final in 40 years as a player and manager but instead it will be Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, in his first season in the English game, who will lead his side out against Tottenham or Portsmouth on 15 May.
Hopefully, that game will take place on a different surface after the Wembley pitch, which was re-laid for the 10th time in three years following England’s win over Egypt in last month’s friendly, again proved hopelessly inadequate for a showpiece match.
Players from both sides struggled to stay on their feet in the opening stages and it seemed to particularly affect Chelsea, whose usual fluid style was nowhere to be seen in the first half hour, save for an individual effort by Joe Cole that saw him cut in from the left and fire narrowly wide.
As well as the turf, Villa were also doing their best to stop the Blues from hitting their stride by working hard to limit any space for Lampard in midfield and chasing back when Cole or Malouda tried to attack down the wings.
O’Neill’s men were also growing in confidence coming forward and, after 15 minutes, they threatened for the first time when the industrious James Milner was unlucky to see his low shot skid inches wide.
That was the cue for a spell of concerted Villa pressure but it was Chelsea’s turn to show resilience at the back, admittedly assisted by referee Howard Webb.
To most observers at Wembley, it looked a stonewall spot-kick when Agbonlahor turned Obi in the box before being bundled over but Webb, despite being perfectly placed, waved play on.
It was the second major decision to go against Villa at Wembley this season, following the incident in their Carling Cup final defeat at the hands of Manchester United that saw Nemanja Vidic avoid a red card when he conceded a penalty - and understandably
O’Neill reacted furiously on the touchline after being denied again.
But, on the pitch, his players kept their focus and Chelsea were lucky to escape again when Petr Cech missed Stewart Downing’s cross and only a flick from Terry diverted the ball out of John Carew’s path at the far post.
The Blues did improve before the break and it took a brave block by Stephen Warnock to deny Drogba when he met Florent Malouda’s pull-back from the left.
However, aside from a Cole snap-shot on the turn on the stroke of half-time, Ancelotti’s men looked blunt going forward and were a shadow of the side that had plundered 14 goals in their three preious matches.
The chances had dried up for Villa too, however, and although Carew headed wide from Downing’s corner in the first minute of the second-half, the game degenerated into a midfield scrap that was badly in need of a goal.
The breakthrough duly came after 67 minutes, with Drogba - as he has been so many times this season - in the right place at the right time to find the net.
Richard Dunne did brilliantly to deny the big Ivory Coast striker when he skipped inside James Collins and made for goal, but did rather less well from the resulting corner.
Dunne’s headed clearance only reached John Terry on the edge of the area, and his first-time shot was turned in by Drogba, who was lurking inside the six-yard box.
That was not quite the end for Villa, who continued to come forward, but the balls they were hoisting into the box were laced more with hope than any real menace.
They might have had more hope had Webb chosen to send Terry off for his dreadful challenge on his England team-mate Milner, but the official decided a yellow card would suffice.
Instead, with O’Neill committing more and more men forward, Chelsea were left to exploit the gaps left at the back - which they did in ruthless fashion in the closing minutes.
Malouda rounded off a fine passing move with a sweet back-post finish to make it 2-0 and Lampard practically walked the ball into the net when he met substitute Nicolas Anelka’s pass from another swift breakaway.
Saturday, 10 April 2010
There is something about Didier Drogba in this competition at this venue. He scored in the semi-final and the final last year and he did it again, his instinctive finish the goal that effectively sent holders Chelsea into the final.
With Aston Villa chasing the game, Chelsea added two late goals to skew the scoreline in what was actually quite a tight, hard-fought game.
Carlo Ancelotti, a manager supposedly immersed in a crisis just over a month ago, is on course to do the double in his debut season as a manager in the Premier League, and with his side showing such unwavering resolution it is going to take a lot to stop them.
This was not Chelsea at their best. They lacked the energy that has been fundamental to their impressive run of results since being eliminated from the Champions League, but their foundations remain rock solid.
The defensive keystone of Alex, John Terry and Petr Cech is the source of the whole team’s strength and Villa could not breach them. Terry, one ugly studs-up challenge on James Milner aside, was particularly impressive.
It was a second Wembley disappoint for Martin O’Neill and his Villa side this season.
After suffering a 7-1 thrashing at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, some Villa fans might have feared their team would get outclassed but if anything they shaded much of this game - they just did not get the breaks and the late capitulation made it look worse than it was.
Just as in their last appearance at Wembley, Villa were the victims of an early injustice. In the Carling Cup final, Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic somehow escaped being sent off after bringing down Gabby Agbonlahor in the penalty area when he was clean through. This time, with 16 minutes played, Agbonlahor rolled John Obi Mikel in the area and was clumsily brought down by the Chelsea midfielder.
Howard Webb was well positioned but didn’t give it. Agbonlahor flapped around on the turf like a dying seal; O’Neill had a tantrum in the technical area.
Ancelotti had frustrations of his own, though. The way his side were set out - with Drogba on his own up front and the full-backs taking an attacking line in possession - meant that Chelsea always had one of their central midfield trio spare.
Despite this advantage, though, they failed to start with the tempo that had made them so formidable against Manchester United last week, or even in that 7-1 demolition of Villa a fortnight ago.
Chelsea’s difficulties were exacerbated by the fact that Drogba, recalled to the side after scoring as a sub at Old Trafford, was struggling to impose himself.
Villa’s tactic was to try to bully him. After James Collins went in hard to an aerial challenge, Drogba seemed to hurt his knee and moved gingerly for the ensuing minutes. Richard Dunne fouled him twice as the belligerent approach was sustained and when he did get a chance, after Florent Malouda found him with a cross, Stephen Warnock was across well to block.
With the ball, Villa tried to use the pace of Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and especially Agbonlahor to hit Chelsea early, with the latter two swapping wings frequently to keep the Chelsea full backs guessing.
Chances came: James Milner watched a low shot from range go just wide of the post with Petr Cech at full stretch, while Terry got the slightest touch on Stewart Downing’s cross to confuse a spare John Carew at the far post.
Still, it was a pretty flat first half and, once again, this Wembley pitch was not helping matters. The surface layer was cutting up very easily and players were slipping all over the place - Milner even changed his boots during the course of the first half.
At half-time 13 ground staff came out with pitchforks to repair some of the damage. It’s preposterous that it remains in such a state and a dumb risk to the fitness of the players hoping to go to the World Cup.
The intensity increased in the second half as the roles were reversed: Villa started to enjoy more possession with Chelsea striking on the counter-attack. It was one of those swift attacks that preceded the goal. Mikel slid Drogba in down the left channel and Ivorian cut inside the sprawling Collins as he tried to block. Dunne came flying in to cover but conceded a corner.
Malouda sent in what looked a benign cross but Dunne could only head the ball straight to the feet of Terry and the Chelsea captain’s mishit shot was diverted in instinctively by Drogba. This was far from one of his best performances but Drogba obviously loves this stadium.
With the game slipping away from them Villa had to take risks and Chelsea punished them for their adventure. Michael Ballack, on for Deco, sent in a classy cross to the far post where the in-form Malouda tucked it in right-footed for the second.
Malouda then missed an easier chance in stoppage time before Lampard, who had scored four against Villa last time, tucked away a third with the defence in disarray.
Saturday, 10 April 2010
Chelsea see off Aston Villa again to seal another FA Cup final place
Chelsea are still on course for a first Double. An often soporific FA Cup semi-final ended with Carlo Ancelotti’s team setting up a date with Spurs or Portsmouth, who clash here tomorrow, in May’s showpiece. By then this team will hope to have bagged the Premier League title, and be halfway to immortality in their west London manor.
Didier Drogba was preferred ahead of Nicolas Anelka, after the Ivory Coast striker had started on the bench for last week’s 2-1 victory at Manchester United. Drogba, surely nonplussed by that decision, had entered proceedings at Old Trafford as a second-half substitute and scored Chelsea’s winner.
This afternoon was much the same. “The FA Cup is really special to us and when I have the chance I will try to score,” the 32-year-old said of a second-half strike, which took his Wembley tally to five, including one against Arsenal in the corresponding fixture last season, plus the winner against United in the 2007 final.
“I had two chances before and I was a bit unlucky, the first one was a great block from [Stephen] Warnock and the third chance maybe was the one that was least expected, but that’s the goal.
“I always say I’m lucky; it’s an honour for me to be here and to play in a stadium like this one.”
Fortune arrives for those who go searching, and it was Drogba alone who created the opportunity from which he claimed the 32nd goal of an outstanding season, flashing down the left and causing James Collins to dive in, before his shot at Brad Friedel went for a corner.
It was the turn now of Collins’s defensive partner, Richard Dunne, to commit a howler. Florent Malouda’s delivery from the left landed plum on the Irishman’s head, but his weak clearance found a lurking John Terry. The former England captain’s response was a pass-shot hybrid, which found the unmarked Drogba. From six yards he was not going to miss and he duly steered a left-foot strike low into the corner of the net.
Before the goal that killed Villa, though, it had been Martin O’Neill’s team who started the tie far more convincingly. Gabriel Agbonlahor had begun festivities with a surge through midfield that worried Terry before the ball fell to Ashley Young who forced a corner.
Chelsea managed their opening threat on nine minutes. But, after a corner was won courtesy of Malouda’s work down the left Alex could only head the ball out for a goal-kick.
Villa’s 7-1 drubbing at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago had begun with a Frank Lampard strike on 15 minutes so they were content to move beyond that mark still level here. In fact, before the quarter-hour had passed, it was O’Neill’s team who might have taken the lead from two chances.
James Milner was first up with a low, skidding effort that narrowly passed Petr Cech’s right post. Then Agbonlahor appeared to be kneed to the turf inside Chelsea’s area by Mikel John Obi. Howard Webb stared for a moment before, to O’Neill’s fury, turning away.
If the referee had seen Agbonlahor clutching Mikel’s jersey then he might have taken that in mitigation, though a counter-argument says that players hugging each other in this area of the pitch is commonplace stuff.
Since that 7-1 defeat much has been made by O’Neill and his players of Terry’s remarks that Villa tend to fade late on in games. From a distance, though, this seemed fair comment from Chelsea’s captain and there was a sense here that Wembley’s wide yards would again test Villa’s stamina.
Yet as the half-hour passed it was Chelsea who, if not sluggish exactly, were struggling to wrest the play from Villa, though this may have been the unfolding of precisely the pattern Terry had described, with Chelsea hoping to emerge stronger as the game wore on.
The closing minutes of the first half offered an initial hint of this. Not for the first time, Drogba was Chelsea’s threat. With players beginning to slip on the notorious Wembley turf (this was the second try-out of a 10th relaying in three years) Dunne went down in his area when hoping to stop the striker unloading from Malouda’s cross.
It was Warnock who managed to get a fine block in and moments later Drogba performed a flip-and-collect over a Villa player’s head that was playground stuff. And, when Dunne had a niggle at the same player, it was Drogba’s toe-poke of a free-kick that was blasted at Villa’s wall.
Despite the strong finish to the period, though, Ancelotti was not content with how his players had, for large periods, been dominated by Villa. This caused the Italian to show his displeasure by sending his players out early for the restart and telling three substitutes – Anelka, Michael Ballack and Salomon Kalou – to spend the first 10 minutes warming up.
Yet they and the manager had to witness further spluttering from Chelsea, with the aimless ball from Joe Cole that went straight for a goal-kick instead of on to Drogba’s head emblematic of their performance. At this point Villa still seemed favourites. After 62 minutes another Agbonlahor run preceded a shot that demanded a Cech save. Ancelotti, wanting to force events, had seen enough. Off went Cole and on came Kalou.
Now came Drogba’s moment and while Terry later seemed fortunate to receive only a yellow card for clobbering Milner’s knee, Mr Chelsea’s analysis of Villa’s tendency to fade was proved correct. Late strikes from Malouda, meeting a precise Ballack cross on the half-volley, and Lampard, teed up in the area by Malouda and Anelka, provided the confirmation.
Terry’s team now switch back to the league and Bolton on Tuesday. They can smell glory.