Chelsea made it four FA Cup victories in six years as they claimed a well deserved 2-1 victory over Liverpool. Chelsea were dominant and strikes from Ramires and of course Dider Drogba gave Chelsea a comfortable 2-0 lead and seemingly another FA Cup final victory. Although Liverpool finally woke up in the final 25 minutes, inspired greatly by the introduction of Andy Carroll, as they pilled the pressure on a tiring Chelsea. Carroll netted with a great finish before the a moment of pure brilliance from Petr Cech kept Carroll's header out. Carroll showed the form he had at Newcastle and why Liverpool paid so much money for him. Chelsea hang on to claim their first silverware under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo and left Kenny Dalglish's side with more then a few regrets.
Chelsea seal another FA Cup success
In truth for the first 65 minutes Chelsea were so dominant they could have had three or four. Liverpool did not turn up. It was for me the most one sided FA Cup final since Manchester United victory over Millwall back in 2004. The gulf between the two appeared to be huge. Steven Gerrard was anonymous for most of the game as his Captian Fantastic / Roy of the Rovers aura seems to be fading. No longer can he galvanise and carry Liverpool sides as he has in the past. It was a very poor showing from Liverpool who Gordon Strachan describes as 'lacking enthusiasm', which seems unbelievable for a Cup Final.
The deadlock was broken after 11 minutes as Jay Spearing was dispossessed and Juan Mata's pass found Ramires in full flight who breezed past Jose Enrique will ease before he fired his shot straight at Pepe Reina, however the Spaniard had tried to predict the shot and so was in the wrong position and could do nothing to prevent the ball going in. In truth it was a catalogue of errors. Jose Enrique attempt at defending was awful as for Reina, you would expect a man of his experience to be doing far better.
No stopping that one - Drogba fires home
Throughout the first half Liverpool created nothing. As an attacking force they were dismal. It was so easy for Chelsea. As a result I expected them to be given the riot act and to come out second half all guns blazing however this was not the case. They began the second half as they had finished the first. Chelsea then deservedly went 2-0 ahead through Drogba's left-footed low drive into the far corner (left). It was so one-sided it was not even a spectacle. For an FA Cup final for a team to show not fight, passion, enthusiasm or drive was incredible.
However the introduction of Andy Carroll on 55 minutes turned the game. He immediately looked to be a threat. On 65 minutes Carroll scored a superb effort as he bamboozled John Terry before firing into the roof of the net. For the first time in the game, Liverpool seemed to be interested.
Cech makes incredible save from Carroll
Suddenly they were flooding forward and looked a threat. Carroll was causing chaos in the Chelsea defence. John Terry's quiet afternoon had gone. The team seemed to now have purpose and drive. In the 82nd minute they were nearly rewarded again. Carroll (right) found himself totally unmarked and his powerful header was incredibly saved by Petr Cech. Liverpool appealed for the goal, as Luis Suarez remonstrated with the linesman. In real time from the television angle it looked a goal however from the reply it showed to me that the ball had not crossed the line and Cech had in fact made an FA Cup winning save. I am glad that the referee got this one correct, as would have been awful if we had had another goal -line decision controversy. The officials got this one correct however goal-line technology must be brought in. Liverpool continued to push forward in search on the equaliser as Chelsea fell further and further back. It seemed they were running on empty. However it was not to be for Liverpool as Chelsea hung on for the win.To be honest despite Liverpool's final 25 minute burst of energy, I do not think anyone could seriously make a genuine case for Liverpool deserving to be level. You cannot not play for the first 65 minutes and seriously expect to win. Chelsea were deserved winners.
Where do Liverpool go from here?
The defeat will leave Liverpool fans reeling over their sides lack of anything in the first 65 minutes. Kenny Dalglish will be wondered what exactly happened. Should Andy Carroll have started? His performance in the last 25 minutes was that of when he was at Newcastle. I do think that Carroll will come good. If he is used correctly he is incredibly dangerous. His performance maybe gives him an outside shot at the England squad. Today we saw a number of very poor showing, Steven Gerrard (right) looked past it, Enrique seems to be getting worse and Liverpool appear to be going backwards. As for Dalglish he is a man under pressure. He spent a lot of money over the summer and his return is a dismal league campaign and finish, FA Cup final defeat and a Carling Cup win. Luckily for Dalglish he has qualified for the Europa League although they are so far of the pace it must scare Liverpool fans. Although Dalglish looked an old and haggard man on the touchline who seems to not know what to do. It will very interesting to see what happened in the summer at Liverpool. Will Dalglish still be in charge? I think so although will he be given money to spend? Dalglish and Liverpool must face the stark reality of the situation and will have to do some seriously thinking over the next few weeks.
As for Chelsea they now have a Champions League final to look forward to. That is the big game for them no doubt. They will need to win, due to their league form, in order to qualify for the tournament next year. Also it is the one they have always wanted. It will be an intriguing final no doubt. It may also be vital for the future of Roberto Di Matteo. If he does win the Champions League, surely he will be given the job. For me he should get it anyway, however Roman Abramovich is a strange man and no one can predict what he will do.