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Rediff.com  » Sports » Holders Chelsea sweep back into FA Cup final

Holders Chelsea sweep back into FA Cup final

April 11, 2010 00:24 IST

Holders Chelsea beat Aston Villa 3-0 to sweep into the FA Cup final for the third time in four seasons on Saturday and keep alive their dream of a first FA Cup and League double.

All three goals came late in the game with Didier Drogba breaking Villa's resistance after 67 minutes before Florent Malouda (89th) and Frank Lampard, deep in stoppage time, gave Chelsea an ultimately comfortable victory.

Drogba, who has scored in all five cup matches he has played for Chelsea at Wembley Stadium, turned a John Terry shot into the net past Brad Friedel to tip the tie Chelsea's way.

Malouda added the second after a cross from substitute Michael Ballack and Lampard grabbed the third when acres of space opened up for him shortly before the end of the four minutes added for stoppages.

Chelsea will meet Tottenham Hotspur or Portsmouth, who play in the second semi-final on Sunday, in the domestic showpiece at Wembley on May 15.

The final scoreline belied the close nature of the match as Villa, determined to atone for their 7-1 defeat at Chelsea in the Premier League two weeks ago, matched the favourites stride-for-stride.

At least they did when the players were not falling over on a slippery pitch which made flowing football hard to achieve.

Although Villa had their chances and went close to taking the lead when John Carew glanced a header narrowly wide early in the second half, Chelsea were the better team and deserved winners on the day.

AVOID REPETITION

Villa, desperate to avoid any repetition of the mauling they suffered at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, looked far more solid at the back at first and restricted the holders to just two half-chances in the opening 30 minutes.

They were also desperate to avoid a second defeat at Wembley this season after losing to Manchester United in the League Cup final six weeks ago, and attacked with more relish than Chelsea before the break.

The London side were restricted to half-chances before the break, with Drogba powering in a shot after 36 minutes which looked goal-bound until Stephen Warnock blocked.

Three minutes later Joe Cole fired a shot on the turn straight at goalkeeper Brad Friedel who did well to hold it.

Villa looked to push forward at every opportunity without really putting the Chelsea defence under pressure.

However, they were unfortunate not to get a penalty after 16 minutes when Jon Obi Mikel manhandled Gabriel Agbonlahor to the ground in front of referee Howard Webb who waved play on.

He may have detected that Agbonlahor tugged at Mikel's shirt before he tumbled but it was a close call for the Londoners.

Chelsea's No.1 goalkeeper Petr Cech was also lucky not to be punished when he completely missed a cross from Stewart Downing. Fortunately for the Czech international, skipper John Terry headed the ball away from the lurking Agbonlahor.

Drogba, who scored for Chelsea at Wembley in the 2007 FA Cup final, the 2008 League Cup final, and the 2009 FA Cup semi-final and final, almost netted again after 66 minutes but was unable to convert a loose ball after a surging run.

He did score a minute later, though, when Villa failed to clear and paved the way for another FA Cup final appearance.

Source:
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