x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Chelsea through to FA Cup final

Didier Drogba maintained his superb record at Wembley to keep alive Chelsea's hopes of winning the double this season, leaving Martin O'Neill cursing another major refereeing decision at the home of English football.

Chelsea's Didier Drogba leaps over the challenge of Aston Villa's James Collins during their FA Cup semi-final match at Wembley yesterday. The Blues won the match 3-0.
Chelsea's Didier Drogba leaps over the challenge of Aston Villa's James Collins during their FA Cup semi-final match at Wembley yesterday. The Blues won the match 3-0.

Didier Drogba maintained his superb record at Wembley to keep alive Chelsea's hopes of winning the double this season, leaving Martin O'Neill cursing another major refereeing decision at the home of English football. There is something about Wembley which seems to bring out the best in Drogba who has now scored in each of his five competitive matches for Chelsea at the national stadium. "I didn't feel under any pressure to perform because I have been in this position before and I knew why I was not starting last time," said Drogba in the post-match television interview. "That is not a problem for me. The only important thing is that we have got seven games to go, including the FA Cup Final now, and we have to win them all if we are going to be successful. I always feel that I am lucky to be here at Wembley and it is an honour to be at such a special stadium. I had two chances before I scored and I was a bit unlucky although [Stephen] Warnock got a good block in on one of them. Maybe my third one [when I scored] was the most unexpected."

But O'Neill can have every reason to be angry once again with the outcome of the game after a poor decision by Howard Webb, the referee, cost his side a penalty in the first half. Gabriel Agbonlahor was clearly brought down inside the box by John Obi Mikel but Webb somehow failed to award a spot kick. Villa were also punished in the Carling Cup Final earlier in the season when Nemanja Vidic, the Manchester United defender, should have been sent-off after bringing down Agbonlahor.

There is no doubt that if Villa would have opened the scoring, the outcome of the FA Cup semi-final would have been completely different. Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, will not care less as second-half goals from Drogba, Florent Malouda and Frank Lampard ensured the Premier League leaders reached the FA Cup final once again and gave them every chance of securing the double for the first time in the club's history.

The major talking point of the game came after just 16 minutes when Agbonlahor was dragged down inside the area by Mikel, but Webb amazingly waved for play to continue - much to the disgust of O'Neill who was fuming at the decision on the touchline. Everyone inside Wembley could see it was a penalty and even Ray Wilkins, Chelsea's assistant coach, admitted at half-time that Villa should have been awarded a spot kick. The Villa players could not believe their luck and once again a poor refereeing decision has cost the Midlands side in a major cup game at Wembley.

Malouda secured the victory for Chelsea on 89 minutes when he raced onto a cross from Michael Ballack and made no mistake firing the ball into the back of the net. Lampard compounded the misery for Villa when he added a third in injury time. * PA