Chelsea defeats Portsmouth in FA Cup final to complete Premier League double
Chelsea defeated Portsmouth, 1-0, in the FA Cup final at Wembley, England, to complete the Premier League champion's first domestic double on Saturday.
Chelsea hit the posts five times and Portsmouth missed a penalty kick before Didier Drogba curled a free kick in off the post in the 59th minute for his 37th goal of the season.
"It's fantastic we achieved the double. It was difficult to come back and stay focused for this game because last week we celebrated the title," Drogba said. "You start to think that you won't score ... I saw a little gap. I hit the post again, but it went in this time."
Salomon Kalou missed an easy chance in the first half, hitting the ball against the crossbar six yards in front of an open goal.
Portsmouth could have gone in front just before Drogba's goal when Kevin-Prince Boateng's weak penalty kick was saved by Petr Cech's legs. Frank Lampard also missed a late penalty kick for Chelsea, with the England midfielder dragging the ball wide.
That Portsmouth survived so long without conceding was unexpected.
The 129th final pitted one of English football's wealthiest clubs — Roman Abramovich-bankrolled Chelsea — against Portsmouth, which was relegated from the Premier League as the bottom team and is still fighting for its existence while in bankruptcy protection.
"It's a day that I am very proud and very sad — proud because we could win the game," said Portsmouth manager Avram Grant, who is set to leave the club. "We closed them (down), we played tactically very well, we gave everything."
Recent routs by Chelsea, which ended the championship-winning league season with an 8-0 thrashing of Wigan, raised fears that it could be the most one-sided final in decades.
Chelsea took less than four minutes to threaten Portsmouth's goal, with Lampard shooting wide from the edge of the penalty area and seeing a dipping strike hit the goal frame 10 minutes later.
But having upset the odds to reach the final, Portsmouth wasn't going to capitulate. And having survived intense Chelsea pressure for 20 minutes, Portsmouth was only prevented from taking a shock lead by Cech's reflex save.
Boateng's deflected volley reached Frederic Piquionne, but the resulting shot from close range was blocked by Cech.
While fine goalkeeping denied Portsmouth, Chelsea only had dire finishing to blame for not going in front in the 27th.
Ashley Cole forced James to cover the near post before squaring to the unmarked Kalou. The Ivory Coast forward had an unguarded goal to tap into from close range, but explicably lifted the ball against the bar.
Then Chelsea captain John Terry headed against the bar from Florent Malouda's free kick.
Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack appeared to injure his right ankle in a late challenge from Boateng, one month before he is set to appear for Germany at the World Cup.
While Ballack was receiving treatment off the pitch — he was eventually replaced by Juliano Belletti — Drogba thought he had given Chelsea the lead with a long-range free kick. But David James tipped the ball on to the underside of the crossbar and it bounced down on the line and the ball was cleared.
A post denied Drogba again just before the break when he hit the bottom of one from a tight angle under pressure from James.
"We rode our luck in the first half — David James pulled off some unbelievable saves," said Portsmouth midfielder Jamie O'Hara, who is on loan from Tottenham. "This is going to be the last time we all play together. It's an emotional day for us all. It would have been great to go out with a win, but this is a massive club. They'll be back."
Portsmouth's chance came in the 55th when Belletti conceded a penalty by bringing down Aruna Dindane. Cech wrongly dived early to his right, but his legs blocked Boateng's weak penalty down the center .
Within minutes, Drogba struck the post with a curling free kick that this time went into the net beyond the outstretched James.
"I thought our luck was running out but Didier hit a great free kick," Terry said.---Associated Press