Cech saves best for last and posts a fine display

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The story of the week before this game was John Terry's suspected broken metatarsal. As it happens the only injury Terry is likely to pick up is RSI, from having to lift the two biggest trophies in the English game in the space of six days.

Chelsea completed the Double yesterday, but only after a double of a very different kind – two superb saves from their goalkeeper, Petr Cech, who ended a season in which his form has have been questioned with the performance of the year. He can now take his place alongside FA Cup final goalkeeping heroes such as Jim Montgomery, Dave Beasant and Bert Trautmann. He joined Beasant of Wimbledon and Nottingham Forest's Mark Crossley as the only keepers to save an FA Cup final penalty at Wembley. However, a save to deny Frédéric Piquionne after 22 minutes was even better.

The Portsmouth striker was only four yards from goal but Cech pulled off an amazing response to keep the ball out. He sharpens up his reflexes by playing table tennis, which gives a new meaning to the old adage that you have to be a bit batty to be a goalkeeper. Conceding a goal after 22 minutes would not have been a disaster for the Premier League champions, as they would have had plenty of time to bounce back. But Cech's penalty save from Kevin-Prince Boateng, came at a time when the match was slipping away from Carlo Ancelotti's team.

In what could have been his final game for the club, Michael Ballack had been immaculate in a defensive midfield role until his ankle felt the full force of a wild challenge by Boateng. His replacement, Juliano Belletti, will celebrate his 34th birthday next month and he showed his age when, with 55 minutes on the clock, he tried to block a run by Aruna Dindane. The Brazilian succeeded only in tripping the Portsmouth winger and conceded a penalty.

For a moment it appeared as if Portsmouth were about to pull off a huge upset, but Boateng's penalty was too close to Cech and the giant in Chelsea's goal was able to kick the ball away to safety. That was Portsmouth's great chance and both sides knew it. Cech's save invigorated Chelsea, who had begun to flag as the labours of a demanding season – and a demanding league title celebration – started to take their toll.

Chelsea spent last Sunday night at Whisky Mist in London's West End, after their 8-0 thumping of Wigan landed the Premier League title. They hit the bar again – and the post – yesterday, as they battered Portsmouth in the first half. Five efforts hit the woodwork.

Salomon Kalou's was the most glaring miss, a volley from a matter of yards that struck the bar rather than the unguarded Portsmouth goal. Frank Lampard, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba, twice, also fell foul of Chelsea's tendency to hit wood rather than netting in an absorbing first half. Drogba pounded the goal frame with his palms, venting his frustration, imploring the structure to give Chelsea a bit of luck.

It worked. As the match reached the hour, Aaron Mokoena fouled Drogba in the danger area and Chelsea's remarkable striker stepped up. He struck David James's post again with his free-kick but this time the ball bounced in off the upright.

There was still time for Lampard to miss the goal completely with a late penalty for Chelsea after he was fouled by his man-marker, Michael Brown – a worrying sight for the watching England manager, Fabio Capello. But as the match entered the fourth minute of stoppage time the referee, Chris Foy, blew his whistle to signal Chelsea's completion of the Double.