Everton scored the fastest ever goal in FA Cup history when Louis Saha opened the scoring in this afternoon’s 2009 FA Cup Final, but failed to hold off an impressive Chelsea, who equalised through Didier Drogba and won the match with a Frank Lampard belter from 25 yeards.
“after going one nil down in one minute [winning the game] showed a lot of character” Frank Lampard said in interview immediately after the match, and paid tribute to his father following the loss of his mother during this season.
Saha had stunned the Chelsea players by smashing home past Petr Cech’s right hand after a knock down from tall centre forward, Fellaini.
In truth, that was the most Everton threatened in the first half, and Chelsea gradually took control of the match, particularly down the left flank as Malouda and the ever workmanlike Ashley Cole ran the Everton right back Tony Hibbert ragged.
It was one such move which saw Chelsea equalise on minutes after a Malouda cross was met by a thumping header from Didier Drogba.
The teams came in, at half time, with the scores tied at one all.
The second half continued in similar fashion, though Everton manager David Moyes replaced Tony Hibbert with Lars Jacobsen at half time, which had the desired effect and kept Cole and Malouda much quieter.
Chelsea, however, began to get a real grip of this final, and began to pick up possession, looking the more dangerous of the two sides going forwards, with Anelka putting the ball narrowly over with a deft chip just ten minutes into the half.
Everton had a good spell of pressure around the hour mark, though, and Louis Saha will be disappointed he failed to head in what looked like a good opportunity from a Pinaar cross which followed a good Everton set piece. His header went over the bar, and this marked the best of Everton’s opportunities thus far and, so it would prove, in the whole final.
Soon after, the ball fell to Frank Lampard, who had, by his standards, a quiet game up until this point thanks, largely, to an excellent job by Phil Neville of Everton, who marked the Chelsea danger-man manfully. The one time his despairing dive failed to come off – this time Lampard turned back onto his left – Lampard overcame a slight slip, quickly getting to his feet, before unleashing a left-footed shot which curled away into the top left corner of Tim Howard’s Everton goal.
The ball brushed the Everton stopper’s fingers on the way into the net, and the ‘keeper will rightly feel he might have done more with the effort, but take nothing away from Lampard, his was an excellent finish, from 25 yards. His goal would win Chelsea the FA Cup 2009.
The scoreline after this goal, which came on 72 minutes, would not change, however there was still time for Florent Malouda to almost cap his display with a memorable goal when he fired a blistering shot into the crossbar which bounced down onto or over the goal-line and away. The replay, though inconclusive, heavily hinted at a sound goal, though no linesman on Earth could have called the shot one way or another. Malouda seemed more convinced than most, but then he would, wouldn’t he, but it was certainly a rocket shot, and few would argue he did not deserve a goal from this most industrious of performances.
Malouda has been a revelation under Hiddink and the Chelsea players have seen off their short-term manager in good style giving him two presents last night – John Terry reported that the players had a “whip round” to buy the Dutchman an engraved watch and signed shirt – and the best present of all, an English FA Cup winners medal.
Ashley Cole showed why he has recently won the Chelsea Players Player Award by demonstrating his incredible fitness levels, overlapping constantly while getting back to his left-back position when required.
Everton fans and players will lament the loss of their early lead, but, when the pain subsides, will surely be proud of their team’s performance against a Chelsea side who were extremely good on the day.
Fifth place in the league, and a runners up medal in the FA Cup is perhaps as good a result as Everton, and their limited resources, could have expected at the beginning of the season. Chelsea will see their FA Cup as the least they should be winning, and will be happy, in the context of the season, with their third place in the league, too. Both sides will hope to build on today next season, and into the future.
After a wonderful final in a red hot Wembley, a better showcase for English football there could not have been: a match played in a great spirit between two sides playing quality football.
Chelsea took the cup today, but Everton look like a team who will be back for more of this in the near future.