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England - FA Cup
April 15, 2012
• Wembley Stadium, London
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 85731
G. Bale 56'
D. Drogba 43'
F. Lampard 81'
F. Malouda 90'+
Well that brings an end to our LIVE! play by play coverage this evening folks, thank you for joining us. Chelsea are dealt a huge confidence boost ahead of their clash against Barcelona. The score may have flattered them in the end, but they more than deserved the result and a place in the final on May 5th against Liverpool. Roberto Di Matteo's chances of landing the job full-time in the summer have received a huge boost. For Harry Redknapp's Tottenham, though, this was more than just a bad day at the office, they completely crumbled in the face of Chelsea's physical onslaught. There will be some huge questions that need to be addressed in the coming weeks, otherwise a season that promised so much, will end with a whimper. Stick around on the site for some post-match reaction. I've been James McManus, you stay classy.
So where do Tottenham and Harry Redknapp go from here? They completely fell apart in the second half. William Gallas gave a display that would not have looked out of place at a Sunday league match. Assou-Ekotto switched off for Chelsea's third through Ramires and Carlo Cudicini should have done better with Lampard's free-kick for the fourth.
In a memorable tie that promised much and delievered even more, Chelsea reach their fourth FA Cup final in six years after hammering Tottenham at Wembley. A lot of the reaction in the aftermath of this game will hinge on Chelsea being awarded a second goal when the ball never appeared to cross the line, but after getting themselves back into the match through Gareth Bale, Tottenham's resolve at the back was never strong enough and Chelsea threatened every single time that they poured forward, with Malouda, Ramires and Lampard grabbing the other goals.
90' + 4'
Yellow Card John Obi Mikel
90' + 4'
Goal Florent Malouda
90' + 4'
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Scott Parker
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Emmanuel Adebayor
GOALLL!!!! It's five for Chelsea and Tottenham are all over the shop at the back. Florent Malouda has the goal after latching onto Mata's chipped pass into the area and sliding it under Cudicini. William Gallas all at sea for that goal, he's had an awful game today on his return to the side.
Scott Parker is absolutely incensed by a wild kick by Mikel on the halfway line and he has to be restrained by John Terry among others to stop him battering seven shades out of the Nigerian midfielder. That was just plain cowardly by Mikel.
It has to be five there. Florent Malouda pushes Gallas off the ball far too easily and with King getting back, the French winger tries to lift it over both King and Cudicini to Torres at the back post, but it's got too much on it and the chance is gone. Gallas simply stopped and appealed there rather than getting back, diabolical defending.
Chelsea dealing with everything that Tottenham are throwing their way at the moment with ease.
Tottenham fans are exiting the stadium in their thousands now. They've seen enough.
Chelsea still look a threat going forward and Tottenham are in danger or running up a morale-sapping defeat here unless they stay focussed and mindful of their positioning.
Time for Roberto Di Matteo to make some changes now, with the game against Barcelona firmly in mind. Tottenham need a comeback of epic proportions.
To be honest with you, the sheer amount of hopeful thirty yard free-kicks that Lampard has had in his career from that range, by the law of averages, one of them was bound to fly in eventually.
While they maye have a right to feel aggrieved at the second Chelsea goal, as Harry Redknapp shakes his head on the sidelines, they've been undone by a series of individual errors at the back today.
Goal Frank Lampard
Yellow Card William Gallas
GOALLL! Frank Lampard puts the game to bed with a wonderful free-kick from all of thirty yards out that rockets into the far right corner. Cudicini's positioning can be called into question there, but take nothing away from Lampard, that was a fabulous hit. Chelsea are in the final.
Tottenham have just under a quarter of an hour to save their season now. It's as simple as that really.
GOALLL!!!! Ramires makes it three for Chelsea and it looks as if we've got a Chelsea-Liverpool final on the cards now. Mata plays a nice one-two in the middle of the park with Lampard and then the Spaniard delivers an exquisite through ball into the path of Ramires on the right and as he surges into the box, he lifts it over the onrushing Cudicini. Assou-Ekotto simply switched off there.
Rafael van der Vaart
Assou-Ekotto plays a quite frankly rubbish throw-in to his goalkeeper that puts him under huge pressure from Drogba, but he gets his volley just clear of his box and Tottenham survive.
Drogba gets in behind King, but Cudicini's flapping limbs make enough of a nuisance and it is knocked behind for a corner.
Tottenham need a bit more urgency off the ball as they're the ones chasing the game at the minute.
King goes close from the resulting corner, but his header at the near post is deflected narrowly wide with the goal gaping. Van Der Vaart's follow-up effort just isn't of the same quality and Chelsea survive.
Chelsea enjoying a good bit of pressure, but Tottenham look so dangerous on the break, with Bale forcing a corner with another demonstration of his terrifying pace down the left.
From the resulting corner, Gary Cahill, on as a sub for the injured David Luiz, chests the ball down and hits a vicious half-volley that goes over the bar. Close but no cigar.
Drogba goes close to adding another goal but for some good defending from Ledley King as he slides in to knock it behind for a corner after a decent through ball by Mata.
Scott Parker is heavily involved again after another promising attack breaks down. He's had an exceptional game so far.
End-to-end stuff here but there's little in the way of clear cut chances from either side.
We have a proper cup tie now and Didier Drogba sees a rasping shot deflected behind for a corner off William Gallas.
Goal Gareth Bale
GOALLL!!!! Tottenham grab a goal back with Scott Parker's excellent run and through ball into Adebayor's path seeing the striker brought down by Petr Cech inside the area, but Gareth Bale latches onto it and taps into an empty net. No red card for Cech and he's a very lucky boy. Tottenham are right back in it.
The game looks hugely open now and both teams look stretched. A goal looks close.
Decent response by Tottenham to going behind and they're taking the game to Chelsea.
Goal Juan Mata
GOALLLL!!!!!! It's a hugely controversial one and the cry for goal-line technology will receive a timely boost yet again. Chelsea's corner is forced away after a good save from Cudicini, then King heads away well under some intense pressure from Terry, and Mata's strike on the half-volley is adjudged to have crossed the line. However, it's not even close to crossing the line, not one part of the ball is over and even in the melee of bodies, that's a ridiculous decision to give. Mata has given Chelsea a two-goal lead, but that was a season-changing decision. Absolutely shocking refereeing by Martin Atkinson in giving that goal..
Chelsea go close to making it two after a good break away. Drogba's touch inside the box is heavy, but Mata's follow-up brings out a great save from Cudicini diving low to his left and it goes behind for a corner.
Ramires bursts down the right and sends in a whipped cross that Kyle Walker heads right up into the air and then Cudicini collects, The sign of Ledley King sprawled across the turf in the build-up to that is a sign of his recent form.
And the second half is underway, with neither side making any changes.
So what can Harry Redknapp do at half-time to arrest the decline? To be fair to Tottenham, before Drogba's goal, they looked the more likely of the two to break the deadlock and it's taken a truly special goal to see them go in at the break behind. More of the same will be the mantra from Redknapp, Joe Jordan et al, as they've certainly gone close a few times themselves in that half. Game on.
For the first half an hour, it looked as if we had a bit of a damp squib of a game, but the last quarter of an hour was end-to-end stuff with a whole host of chances and the second half promises a whole lot more. Tottenham have looked dangerous going forward, with Lennon and Van Der Vaart both lively, but they've been shaky at the back, and Drogba has bullied Gallas all afternoon, the goal aside.
Martin Atkinson brings an end to the half that's been brought to life by Didier Drogba's fantastic turn and striker just before the half-time break. Tottenham have had their chances, with Van Der Vaart's cross from deep eluding Cech and striking the post and John Terry clearing a diving header from Van Der Vaart off the line, but it's Chelsea who go in ahead at the break.
Tottenham make a meal of a cross at the back and Cudicini is forced to play keep uppy on his line after dealing with a ropey Assou-Ekotto backpass. Dodgy defending, that, but it goes behind for a corner.
Goal Didier Drogba
GOALLLL!! Big-game player Didier Drogba puts Chelsea ahead. Gallas is at fault here and it's a cracker of a goal by the big striker. Terry's long ball is brought down superbly by Drogba, and as he turns and sprints away from Gallas, he half-volleys an excellent effort past Cudicini on his left foot from just outside the box, The goalkeeper had a decent position there, but he's been beaten at his near post by the sheer power of that effort. Thriker!
While a few of my colleagues may disagree with me, John Terry's block on the line smacks of poor positioning to me. Why does the lionheart constantly feel the need to run behind his goalkeeper? Does he not trust Cech to deal with it? Is it because he lacks the requisite positioning in the first place? For me, he has to be challenging the initial header, not running back on his line in the hope that the ball comes his way. A worrying trend in modern-day defending that I simply can't get my head around.
Tottenham hit the post and Chelsea survive, Van Der Vaart curls in a decent cross from the left and Adebayor looks to get on the end of it, but fails to make any contact and the ball hits the post and bounces straight back out, with Cech motionless.
Kyle Walker does well at the back post after poking away a deep cross from Drogba with Kalou lurking. Nothing comes of the reuslting corner, though.
Huge chance for Tottenham. Adebayor hoiks the ball into the back post and Lennon first-time volleys it across goal and Van Der Vaart's diving header is cleared off the line by John Terry, who was covering behind Petr Cech.
Lennon's pace is extremely dangerous as he skips across the pitch at pace, giving the ball to Assou-Ekotto, who gives it to Bale, before the Welshman slips it into the box on the left to Lennon once more. Lennon lets the ball drifts past him, and Luiz looks like he grabs Lennon's shirt, but the winger's pull-back lacks any pace and Chelsea clear.
Both Mata and Modirc have been very quiet so far. Probably explains why the game has failed to burst into life just yet.
Chelsea coming forward in numbers now and Tottenham are put on the back-foot once again, with Drogba;s cross hacked clear by Assou-Ekotto.
Decent move by Chelsea which sees Lampard link up with Kalou down the left, and the winger floats in a very good looking ball into Drogba, but King gets enough on it to nod it behind.
Chelsea knock the ball around the Tottenham box with confidence, but it all comes to end when Bosingwa's cross finds Drogba in an offside position.
This game has definitely been a slow burner so far, and there's been very little in the way of clear cut chances or openings for either side.
Kyle Walker is a very lucky boy. He plays an awful back-pass that was just as bad as Distin's yesterday and Kalou latches onto it, and delays before seeing Mata overlapping Assou-Ekotto. He plays a great through ball into the Spaniard, but Mata's first touch is heavy and Cudicini collects. That was a great run and pass by Kalou, but perhaps the ball had a little too much pace on it for Mata. Best chance of the game so far.
From the corner, King steals a march on his marker and gets a decent header on goal, that's cleared away by Cole on the line.
Adebayor's cross from the left is dealt with terribly by Kalou who nods in behind him to Walker, who cuts in back to Van Der Vaart, who then sees his effort blocked by Lampard's ample rump. Lennon then has a shot deflected behind for a corner. Great pressure from Tottenham here.
Tottenham's plan looks clear today, catch Chelsea on the break and it nearly comes off but for a poor pass by Adebayor to Lennon down the right and Cole intercepts and clears.
David Luiz has his first forward forray of the game and ends up losing the ball high up on the Tottenham left-hand flank, but Van Der Vaart's poor touch to Adebayor means they can't exploit the gap on the break.
Bale looks as if he's stuck to that left-hand flank today, thus ending the experiment of allowing him to roam around in the middle, which to be honest, only really worked in one match away against Norwich. Lennon's return is a huge bonus to the shape of Redknapp's side.
Scott Parker looks like he gets a nosebleed as he bursts forward ahead of the Chelsea midfield, with Bale and Lennon either side of him, he dithers but it still opens up ahead of him as he breaks into the box and it needs a crunching Lampard tackle to turn it behind for a corner. That was a good opportunity for Parker, but he just lacked any sort of conviction.
Gareth Bale in full flight down the left as he glides past Bosingwa with ease, but Luiz gets across and shepherds the ball out of play. Bale simply isn't a footballer, he's a greyhound. Blistering pace.
Both side lacking a spark at the moment, and you can see why they've drawn both of their encounters in the league so far this season. Cancelling eachother out at the moment.
Yellow Card Didier Drogba
Drogba loses the ball on the edge of the area trying to cut back and feed in Kalou, and he works back with Tottenham breaking away and trips up Lennon around the halfway line. Needless booking.
A bit more tempo about the game now and it's all Chelsea's way, with Ledley King putting in a fantastic block on Drogba. Van Der Vaart, a greedy player if ever there was one, curls a left-footed effort miles wide from the edge of the box after some neat work by Lennon, who has switched to the left up the other end.
Drogba was in there! He bullies Gallas after a routine long ball forward and as he goes to hit it on his left foot wide on the edge of the area, he scuffs it under no real pressure and Cudicini collects.
Luka Modric plays Gareth Bale in with a fabulous through ball down the left and Bosingwa's positioning was awful there, but his pace helps him out and he gets back to stop Bale running in on goal. The Welshma's cross is a touch over-hit and drops to Lennon at the back post, who then sees his chip deflected high and then fall down into the arms of Cech.
Chelsea looking very direct today, as they look to make the most of Drogba's presence up top.
Drogba takes the free-kick, from a full 40 yards and has a crack at goal which goes, as you might expect, miles over the bar. He's a big-game player, no doubt about that, but that was a huge waste.
Ramires barges into Scott Parker whilst in possession of the ball and wins a free-kick. Baffling decision, that. Chelsea on top at the moment and Tottenham are struggling to get hold of the ball.
John Terry drives with the ball up the pitch, bringing back nightmares of England 1 Germany 4 at the last World Cup and is heavily involved in another spirited Chelsea attack that ultimately comes to nothing.
Drogba out-muscles Assou-Ekotto down the left and hooks the ball in, but Lampard, with the ball slightly behind him, heads harmlessly wide.
Modric comes close to slipping in Adebayor after driving at the Chelsea defence, but Cech rushes out to collect the ball. Fairly slow start so far from both sides.
It probably won't be the last time that I comment about this, but why is the pitch at Wembley so big? The gaps between midfield and defence are huge. Mata and Modric must be licking their lips.
A Chelsea attack comes to nothing with Kalou wasting a hopeful punt up towards Drogba.
There's an odd lack of atmosphere about the stadium already by the sounds of it.
And we're underway, Tottenham knocking it about early on.
A few fans at Wembley could be heard not observing the silence properly. Why on earth would you not? Absolutely senseless!
Martin Atkinson is today's referee as all the players are out on the pitch, gathered around the centre circle, as we get ready for a minute's silence in memory of the 96 fans who died during the Hillsborough tragedy 23 years ago.
An interesting sub-plot to the game today will be where both managers have their priorities. Tottenham's priority should be winning the FA Cup, but with Champions League football within their reach, they may have one eye on the league still. For Chelsea, they have a huge game on Wednesday against Barcelona in the Champions League. Divided loyalties at play all across the board it would appear.
All over the park today there looks as if there's going to be an interesting contrast of styles. Parker vs Mata, Ramires vs Modric, Van der Vaart vs Terry to name but a few. Anyone else genuinely excited? I ruddy well am.
Elsewhere, another tantalising match-up today will be between Jose Bosingwa and Gareth Bale. Both players boast electric pace, but Bosingwa's positioning can at times be found wanting, and Bale is just the man to exploit half a yard of space and punish you.
So where will the key battles be fought today. The main one that I'm looking forward to seeing has to be the clash between Ledley King and Didier Drogba. Di Matteo's selection of the Ivory Coast striker must have been made after watching Norwich's Grant Holt absolutely run King ragged during their 2-1 win at White Hart Lane, making the Tottenham skipper look every bit like a man who doesn't train more than one day a-week.
The main news for all of you Chelsea fans out there is that Didier Drogba has been chosen to start ahead of Fernando Torres, which certainly looks a big call by Di Matteo. Salomon Kalou continues his resurgence under the Italian's stewardship with another start, while John Terry and Ashley Cole were both passed fit to start earlier this morning, and bolster the Chelsea backline, with Gary Cahill making way for David Luiz.
Let's take a look at the Tottenham line-up for today then. Carlo Cudicini is a surprise inclusion ahead of Brad Friedel in goal, while they welcome back with open arms the return of Scott Parker to help anchor the midfield. Aaron Lennon will help add balance and width to the shape of the side, while there is a shock start for Ledley King ahead of Ryan Nelsen at centre-half. I harboured doubts over whether King would definitely be ruled out of today's game, as in a fixture of this magnitude, Redknapp was always likely to go with as close to what he knows and trusts as possible, so a one-legged Ledley King it is then.
Tottenham's bench is as follows: Friedel, Nelsen, Rose, Dos Santos, Livermore, Sandro, Defoe.
Chelsea name a strong bench with: Turnbull, Cahill, Essien, Meireles, Malouda, Sturridge, Torres.
Chelsea's starting eleven for the game will be: Cech; Bosingwa, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires, Mata, Kalou; Drogba.
Tottenham's starting eleven today is as follows: Cudicini; Walker, Gallas, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Adebayor
The FA Cup this year really has become the trophy of redemption. Yesterday's game saw Kenny Dalglish dealt an almighty reprieve and now Liverpool's season has an air of credibility about it. For Tottenham, while they remain just about in the driving seat for Champions League football and fourth place, fractionally ahead of Newcastle, the FA Cup represents a real opportunity of picking up a trophy to validate their progress this season, despite their recent slump. Chelsea on the other hand, have been mired by inconsistency for the majority of the campaign, but under interim boss Di Matteo, while their Champions League hopes remains slim, they will fancy themselves against an out of sorts Tottenham today, therefore improving the Italian's chances of pinching the job on a full-time basis at the end of the season tenfold.
Good afternoon everyone, my name is James McManus and I shall be running you through the LIVE! play by play of today's FA Cup semi-final between Harry Redknapp's Tottenham and Robert Di Matteo's Chelsea from Wembley.
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