Sport Soccer

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Video: Reds' late sprint can't stop Di Matteo's thoroughbreds

Chelsea 2 Liverpool 1

Roberto Di Matteo celebrates with Salomon Kalou after Chelsea's FA Cup final victory over Liverpool at Wembley yesterday evening. Photo: Phil Noble
Roberto Di Matteo celebrates with Salomon Kalou after Chelsea's FA Cup final victory over Liverpool at Wembley yesterday evening. Photo: Phil Noble

DION FANNING at Wembley

John Terry lifted the FA Cup last night, flanked by Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard. They are, to differing degrees, men who divide opinion but their role in Chelsea's revival is indisputable.

Yesterday was only the foreword to their season's conclusion in Munich in a fortnight but another FA Cup win was always welcome. Ashley Cole has now won the FA Cup seven times. They'll have to build a statue of him on Wembley Way.

They will have to honour Roberto di Matteo too. The pressure to make him a full-time manager increases every day. "It's totally irrelevant," he said when asked about his job prospects. "I'm very pleased with my position until the end of the season. The boss will then make his decision and we'll all respect that."

Di Matteo deflected attention towards his players. "I'm very happy for the players, we've had a difficult season and a lot of criticism and today the players responded to all the adversity we've faced."

In the end, Chelsea appeared to be hanging on but that was to misread a final which they controlled for an hour before Liverpool fought for some pride. Andy Carroll scored once and thought he had scored a second time but the officials didn't give the goal. On the sideline, Kenny Dalglish gestured that the ball was a yard over the line. Later, he wasn't so sure.

"Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't," Dalglish said. "If the officials have got it right I hope they get the credit they deserve."

Dalglish was in no mood to talk up a Liverpool performance that ensured their season wasn't salvaged by double cup wins. "We were excellent in the last half-hour but the game lasts for 90 minutes. You can't give a team like Chelsea a two-goal start. We left ourselves too much to do. I don't think the first hour was a true reflection of this team."

Liverpool had rolled over in the first half, overawed by the occasion while Chelsea's vast experience -- experience that seemed under threat under the previous regime at Stamford Bridge -- was allowed to play the game at a pace that suited them.

Ramires opened the scoring for Chelsea and Drogba added a second after the break. With a two-goal lead, Liverpool needed a revival but their energy could not mask their pitiful failure in the first hour.

At the end, Chelsea fans chanted Di Matteo's name and he will get his reward. "They're thoroughbreds," Dalglish said ruefully as he reflected on the accumulated wisdom that had brought down his side. Chelsea's season has one more classic prospect

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