Monday, November 29, 1999

Chelsea beat Portsmouth in dramatic final to seal Double

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Chelsea overcame a resilient Portsmouth to win a dramatic FA Cup final 1-0 at Wembley Stadium on Saturday and achieve their first League and Cup Double.Didier Drogba got the winner with a 59th minute free-kick after they hit the woodwork five times in the first half and Frank Lampard missed a late penalty.In an astonishing match of twists and turns, Kevin-Prince Boateng, who scored from the spot in the semi-final at Wembley, saw his 56th minute penalty saved.The triumph gave the west London side a second straight FA Cup final victory, after they beat Everton last season, and their third success in four seasons.Although the newly-crowned Premier League champions dominated relegated Portsmouth in the opening half, they were thwarted on five occasions when Drogba (twice), Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou and John Terry all hit the bar or post.Despite that Portsmouth's incredibly vociferous fans made the greater noise inside the sun-drenched stadium and stayed to applaud their side even after defeat.The match turned Chelsea's way when Boateng's penalty, awarded after substitute Juliano Belletti brought down Aruna Dindane, was saved by Petr Cech's legs.Drogba fired home a 25-metre free-kick three minutes that went in off the inside of a post to maintain his record of scoring in all six competitive matches he has played for Chelsea at Wembley -- three semi-finals and three FA Cup finals.Lampard fired wide from the spot in the 88th minute after a Michael Brown had clattered into him but Chelsea had already done enough to become the seventh club in English history to win the Double, the 11th time the feat has been achieved.OVERWHELMING FAVOURITESChelsea began as 5-1 on favourites to beat Portsmouth who are in administration, have debts of 138 million pounds ($201.2 million) and finished bottom of the Premier League.Some pundits had predicted a record FA Cup final victory following Chelsea's 8-0 trouncing of Wigan Athletic when they clinched the league title at Stamford Bridge last Sunday.But Portsmouth, many of whose players might have been playing their last match for the club because of the financial problems and relegation, weathered the storm.In contrast Chelsea had just one first half scare with Cech producing an outstanding reflex save to deny Frederic Piquionne.Pompey's first close shave came after 14 minutes when Lampard shot against the outside of David James's left-hand post with a 25-metre drive.Kalou was guilty of one of the most blatant misses in any Cup final after 27 minutes when he shinned an Ashley Cole cross against the bar in front of an open goal from four metres.A minute later Chelsea captain Terry headed the ball against the bar again with the under-fire James beaten.Portsmouth rode their luck once more 10 minutes later when James pushed Drogba's 30-metre free kick against the bar.The right-hand post came to Portsmouth's rescue again two minutes later when Drogba cracked the ball against it from close range with England goalkeeper James again beaten.The Ivory Coast striker, who will lead his country at the World Cup finals, showed his utter frustration by smacking the post with his hand.Chelsea had four other chances in the opening period but they needed a stunning reflex save from Cech to keep out an instinctive close-range effort from Piquionne after 22 minutes.Portsmouth had the brighter start in the second period but there was an air of inevitably about the outcome once Boateng saw his penalty saved and Drogba scored for Chelsea.The icing on the cake for Chelsea's England defender Ashley Cole was a place in the record books as he climbed the steps to the Royal Box and collected his sixth FA Cup winners' medal.(Editing by Ken Ferris To query or comment on this story email
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