Chelsea routed London rival Tottenham 5-1 to reach the final of English soccer’s F.A. Cup for a fourth time in six years.
Didier Drogba, Juan Mata, Ramires, Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda scored for the Blues at Wembley Stadium in the U.K. capital yesterday to set up a meeting at the same venue with Liverpool on May 5. Television replays showed that Mata’s shot for the second goal didn’t cross the line.
Chelsea has played in the final on 10 previous occasions, winning the title six times. Seven-time champion Liverpool beat city rival Everton 2-1 two days ago to secure its spot.
“It’s two clubs with lots of tradition, particularly in the F.A. Cup,” Chelsea interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, who won the competition twice as a player with the Blues, said at a news conference. “It makes for a great final.”
Chelsea’s victory came three days before it faces Barcelona in the first leg of a Champions League semifinal. The Blues were unhappy at the scheduling of the domestic cup match so close to that game.
They had two early opportunities yesterday, though Lampard headed wide and Drogba sliced a shot that was collected by goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini.
Drogba was yellow-carded on 15 minutes for a foul on Aaron Lennon as Tottenham attempted to break.
Both teams pushed forward in search of a goal and Spurs came close nine minutes before halftime when a header by Rafael van der Vaart was blocked by defender Terry on the line with goalkeeper Petr Cech beaten.
Emmanuel Adebayor had another opportunity for the north London team soon after, although the Togo striker failed to connect with the ball, which hit a post.
The Blues scored at the other end seconds later when Drogba took Lampard’s long pass, held off William Gallas and fired past ex-Chelsea keeper Cudicini from 15 yards.
Cudicini dived to stop Mata from doubling Chelsea’s advantage three minutes after halftime and the Spaniard was awarded his controversial goal within a minute.
Terry, David Luiz and Tottenham’s Benoit Assou-Ekotto were among players on the ground on the goal line as Mata’s shot rebounded before bouncing clear. Referee Martin Atkinson allowed the goal, although replays showed that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.
“It was nowhere near a goal, it wasn’t even close,” Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp told the British Broadcasting Corp. “It was big turning point in the game for sure. They picked us off in the end.”
Spurs replied with a goal from Gareth Bale on 56 minutes when Atkinson played an advantage instead of stopping the game when Cech felled Adebayor in the penalty area. The ball fell for Bale to stroke into an empty net.
Chelsea then had to make a defensive change following an injury to Luiz, who was taken off the field on a stretcher and replaced by Gary Cahill.
Mata was again involved in Chelsea’s third goal as his pass released Ramires, who slotted the ball past Cudicini on 77 minutes.
Tottenham’s chances of a comeback were then ended when Lampard fired a free kick into the net four minutes later. Malouda completed the scoring in injury time after Mata chipped the ball into his path.
Spurs have now lost six straight F.A. Cup semifinals since last winning the competition in 1991.
“I can understand the frustration,” Di Matteo said of Mata’s goal. “But I don’t know how much it would have mattered because today we scored five, not two.”
English soccer’s ruling body, the Football Association, today repeated its support for technology to determine whether the ball has crossed the goal-line.
World governing body FIFA will start final tests on two systems later this month before a meeting of the International Football Association Board on July 2 decides on the matter.
“The F.A. has led the calls at IFAB for the introduction of goal-line technology for over a decade, and we reiterate our desire to see it introduced as soon as possible. No other single body has called as strongly for its introduction as the F.A.,” the Football Association said in a statement. “The F.A. is not responsible for the introduction of goal-line technology in isolation and awaits the outcome of the next IFAB meeting.”
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