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By Ben Pearce at Wembley Stadium
Sunday, April 15, 2012
FA Cup semi-final: Chelsea 5 Tottenham 1
Chelsea will face Liverpool in the FA Cup Final after thumping Tottenham in the second semi-final at Wembley today.
Spurs’ poor run of form continued as they lost for the second time in a week, having gone down 2-1 at home against Norwich on Monday.
Chelsea, on the other hand, are through to their first cup final of the season – and they will be looking for another one when they take on Barcelona in the final four of the Champions League on Tuesday.
Despite still being involved in three competitions ahead of the final month of the season, Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo went for a strong side in today’s showdown at Wembley – and was richly rewarded.
Didier Drogba put Chelsea ahead shortly before half-time, and Juan Mata made it 2-0 after the break with a hugely controversial goal which did not touch the goal-line – let alone cross it.
That only seemed to fire Spurs up and they hit back through Gareth Bale, but the Lilywhites were denied a comeback as Ramires, Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda put the Blues out of sight.
There were five changes from the Spurs side that had been beaten by Norwich at White Hart Lane on Monday.
Carlo Cudicini and William Gallas both came into the starting line-up to face their former club, while Scott Parker, Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor also came into the side.
Di Matteo also made five changes – three of them in defence in the shape of David Luiz, Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa, in addition to Juan Mata and Drogba.
The match was preceded by a minute’s silence on the anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy, which also mourned the death of the Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini, who died after a heart attack during a Serie B match in Italy yesterday.
Unfortunately, the moment was ruined by a section of disrespectful Chelsea fans, who refused to honour the occasion, forcing referee Martin Atkinson to blow his whistle less than 30 seconds into the scheduled minute’s silence.
When the action got underway, Spurs lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Luka Modric, Parker and Van der Vaart in the centre to counter Chelsea’s three-man midfield trio.
Drogba gave an early warning of what was to come when he powered past Gallas, appearing to bundle the French defender over before scuffing his volley from the left channel of the penalty box.
Spurs mustered some half chances as Van der Vaart fired high and wide, and John Obi Mikel had to be alert to clear a viciously inswinging corner from the Dutchman.
However, it was Chelsea who had the next clear sight of goal as Salomon Kalou robbed Kyle Walker and crossed for the stretching Mata, who could only prod tamely at Cudicini.
Drogba underlined his threat with a close-range header from another Kalou cross, but the ball flicked off Ledley King and went just wide of goal.
Tottenham were matching their London rivals but failing to find an end product to their forays forward – until the final 10 minutes of the half, when they created the best chance of the match so far.
Van der Vaart’s header from Adebayor’s cross went well wide but dropped to Aaron Lennon, who teed Van der Vaart up again. This time the Dutchman’s close-range header was on target and beat Petr Cech – but John Terry cleared the ball off the line.
Moments later the Lilywhites had their heads in their hands again as another big chance went begging.
Again Van der Vaart was the architect as his ball into Adebayor evaded the striker, as well as Cech, but hit the post.
The sucker punch followed almost immediately as Drogba latched onto a long ball forward, rolled Gallas on the edge of the box and thumped an unstoppable rising drive into the top corner of the net.
If Tottenham felt aggrieved to be behind at the break, they were livid shortly after the interval as an exceedingly controversial ‘ghost goal’ left them 2-0 down.
Cudicini got down brilliantly to save Mata’s low shot but, from the ensuing corner, the Blues’ Spaniard had another shot at goal.
The ball was blocked by a combination of Terry and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, but referee Atkinson wrongly adjudged that the ball had crossed the line and doubled the Blues’ lead.
An understandably incensed Spurs side seemed determined to restore some justice, and they hit back seven minutes later.
Parker freed Adebayor, who was felled by Cech in the penalty area, but Bale was on hand to tap the loose ball into the unguarded net.
With 56 minutes gone, Chelsea suffered the added blow of losing Luiz, who pulled up with a hamstring injury and limped off, necessitating the introduction of Gary Cahill.
The Blues continued to threaten though – particularly Drogba, who was denied a good sight of goal by a last-ditch tackle from King, and a momentary hesitation from Cudicini nearly allowed the Ivorian in again.
With 15 minutes to go, Redknapp gambled and opened his team up, replacing Van der Vaart with Jermain Defoe and switching to 4-4-2 – and Chelsea promptly regained their two-goal cushion.
With 13 minutes to go, Walker played Ramires onside as the Brazilian latched onto Mata’s through ball, and the Brazilian coolly dinked the ball over Cudicini.
It was 4-1 four minutes later as Lampard sent a swerving 35-yard free-kick past Cudicini, putting the result beyond any shadow of doubt, and substitute Florent Malouda added the icing to the cake with a fifth goal at the death.
Tottenham: Cudicini, Walker, Gallas, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Modric, Parker (Sandro 90), Bale, Van der Vaart (Defoe 75), Adebayor
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Luiz (Cahill 59), Cole, Mikel, Ramires (Malouda 82), Lampard, Mata, Kalou, Drogba (Torres 84).