Chelsea won a dramatic FA Cup final as they beat Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley. Into The Top Corner looks at the 7 things we learned from the FA Cup Final.
1. Ramires And Drogba Rise To The occasion Yet Again
Ramires is fast becoming Chelsea’s big-game hero after his tenacious first-half goal spurred his side on to victory. The Brazilian midfielder outmuscled and outpaced José Enrique and showed superb composure to finish past the wrong-footed Pepe Reina. It was the 25-year-old’s third goal in six games, with his other strikes coming at the Camp Nou in the Champions League semi-final and a smart finish against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup last-four. Ramires brings energy to an otherwise ageing Chelsea team and his willingness to burst forward but also complete his defensive duties make the former Benfica midfielder a valuable player of Di Matteo’s side. Didier Drogba, meanwhile, deserves a mention after becoming the first player to score in four FA Cup finals with his 52nd-minute strike to double the Blues’ lead. Cup finals are a happy hunting ground for Chelsea and the Ivorian.
2. Henderson and Spearing Overwhelmed
Liverpool’s season has been hampered by injury to Lucas Leiva and coupled with Charlie Adam’s absence since March, Kenny Dalglish has been forced to rely on inexperienced duo Jordan Henderson and Spearing to partner captain Steven Gerrard in midfield. The duo struggled to cope with their experienced rivals Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Ramires. Spearing carelessly conceded possession for Chelsea’s first goal and it was a common thing throughout a torrid 55 minutes for the Liverpool youth graduate, who was replaced by Carroll. Henderson, signed from Sunderland in a £20m deal last summer, struggled to find any passing momentum and the England Under-21 captain was content to play the ball sideways or backwards, lacking any penetration. It left Suárez starved off possession and suited the Blues’ defence who held a high line, with Liverpool lacking conviction going forward.
3. Carroll Showing Some Signs Of His Talent
Andy Carroll’s impact was the sole consolation in a disappointing performance by Liverpool. The 23-year-old replaced Jay Spearing in the 55th minute and handed the Merseysiders the initiative in the second half. The England striker, who moved to Anfield in a record £35m deal in January 2011, scored his fourth goal in the FA Cup this season, equalling his Premier League tally for the season. He showed neat footwork to deceive John Terry and cut down Chelsea’s advantage with 27 minutes remaining. The former Newcastle United forward was a constant threat to the Chelsea back-four and could have snatched a late equaliser for Liverpool. Luis Suárez’s cross reached Carroll at the back post but Petr Cech produced a full-stretch save to deny the Reds a leveller, despite Liverpool claiming that the ball had crossed the line.
4. Was It Over The Line Or Not – You Decide
Andy Carroll powered a header from a Luis Suarez cross and thought he had scored. But the celebrations were cut short as the officials ruled Cech had clawed the ball out before it had completely crossed the line. Even after half a dozen replays, there was no clear verdict either way, meaning the linesman, with one look, was in an impossible situation. But the occasion is still sure to cause much debate, particularly over goal-line technology matters. There was a similar incident in the semi final between Chelsea and Tottenham where Juan Mata was awarded the goal and to some effect it changed the game. In this game, had it counted as a goal, the impetus Liverpool were carrying may have been enough to see them through to win the trophy. We’ll never know.
5. Chelsea Are Cup Kings
Roberto Di Matteo’s short spell in charge has already delivered its first piece of silverware. The Blues interim boss has led his side to four wins and a draw in the FA Cup – and has an identical record in Europe. If the 41-year-old can guide the Stamford Bridge outfit to their first Champions League crown then Roman Abramovich surely has to hand the Italian the position permanently. For Chelsea, Saturday’s win caps a dominant spell in England’s premier cup competition – it is their fourth FA Cup success in six years and they join Liverpool as seven-time winners. The Blues still also have the chance to become only the second team to win the FA Cup and Champions League in the same season after Manchester United’s memorable treble in 1999.
6. John Terry Makes History
John Terry lifted his fourth FA Cup as Chelsea after the 2-1 win over Liverpool, becoming the first post-war player to do so. All of Chelsea’s four cup wins have come since 2007, with Blues claiming almost sole ownership of the FA Cup in recent times. This succeed will without doubt will be the most important to him as he will be forced to sit out of the Champions League final later this month after receiving a direct red card in the 2nd Leg of the semi final against Barcelona.
7. Two Cup Finals And A Distant League Finish – Is It Enough?
The feeling before the FA Cup final seemed to be that should they win a domestic cup double this season, then that would make up for Premier League disappointment to such an extent that the season could be classed a success. They didn’t, though. Therefore Liverpool end the season with a Carling Cup trophy, and a finish in the league which could be seventh at the highest or as low as 10th if they fail to win both of their remaining two fixtures. Sp what now for Kenny Dalglish? He has integrated a host of new players into the team this season, but a year after they arrived there are still obvious deficiencies in the squad. Injured Lucas Leiva hasn’t helped matters, but neither can one missing man account for all the dropped points at Anfield. A big summer is ahead for the Reds as they look to bring some more new players in, and Dalglish leading the club to two finals might just be enough to ensure he is still he man in charge to bring them some success.