Drogba reprises his role of Wembley warrior

Chelsea 2 Liverpool 1: Chelsea striker scores in fourth final to win Cup for Blues but Carroll is inches away from unlikely comeback

Wembley

Liverpool, officially the away team here yesterday, produced their wretched Anfield home form for too long before rallying to make a real contest of the FA Cup final. Chelsea, looking worthy winners for an hour or so, ended up hanging on and hugely relieved that Andy Carroll's late header was ruled not to have crossed the line. Two teams who had scored 35 goals between them in reaching Wembley managed only one in a dull first half, from Ramires, before the encounter came to life. Didier Drogba became the first player to score in four finals but Carroll, sent on as a substitute, brought Liverpool into contention by halving the lead and almost equalising.

Midfielders Jay Spearing and Jordan Henderson did not produce enough on the day and Steven Gerrard was strangely deep when his role required him to support Luis Suarez, the lone forward until Carroll appeared just after the hour. Chelsea were comfortable in defence until the later stages and had a warrior's performance from Drogba as usual at Wembley, well supported by the elegant Juan Mata and a hard-working Frank Lampard.

Having denied Liverpool a domestic cup double, they now face the Champions' League final in Munich where they must secure an "away" victory to prevent joining yesterday's opponents in the Europa League next season. Kenny Dalglish's take on yesterday was: "We were excellent for the last half hour but the game lasts 90 minutes. You can't give a two-goal start a team of Chelsea's quality. They're in the Champions' League final and they know how to win games."

His opposite number, Roberto Di Matteo, said: "I'm really happy for the players because we've been heavily criticised this season. They pressed hard in thesecond half but we defended well after scoring two good goals."

Chelsea started more brightly and as Dalglish admitted were the better team for just over an hour, during which they scored twice. Liverpool did not feature as an attacking force before falling behind in the 11th minute, when three of their players were culpable, starting with the local boy Spearing, who lost possession to prompt a swift counter. Mata sent Ramires down the right to outpace Jose Enrique and instead of a chip like the one that stunned Barcelona, the Brazilian went for power at the near post, where Jose Reina was beaten as no experienced goalkeeper should be. Reina has admitted to a poor season and that was one of its least distinguished moments.

There was one threat of reprisals, quickly enough to encourage Liverpool but not built on. Glen Johnson, once of Chelsea, broke down the right and crossed superbly, Branislav Ivanovic headed away only as far as Craig Bellamy, and had to block the fierce shot as the red hordes appealed for handball. Chelsea played the ball around more comfortably, their confidence reflected by both Drogba and Lampard taking on shots from 35 yards. To Reina's relief, each drifted wide. He was grateful too to Martin Skrtel for preventing Salomon Kalou wriggling through to shoot and to Lampard for failing to control Kalou's pass with an errant first touch when he would have been clear.

Liverpool players bringing the ball out of defence tended to look up and see nothing but Suarez and a crop of blue shirts, and the Uruguayan's body language suggested he did not think much of it. Carroll must have been itching to get on from an early stage and there would have been strong temptation for Dalglish to introduce him from the start of the second half, which he resisted until the second goal went in seven minutes after the restart. John Obi Mikel began the move by finding Lampard, who turned away from his marker Spearing and played the ball down the inside left channel for Drogba. Neither Johnson nor Skrtel were close enough to him and the shot with his left foot went through the latter's legs and across Reina low into the far corner.

A much more open game had suddenly broken out and Carroll offered new hope to his side's supporters with a goal. When he received the ball at his feet from Downing as Jose Bosingwa was caught in possession, the big striker fooled Terry and shot high into the net. Cech had to save twice from Suarez and Carroll headed over the bar before meeting a chip from Suarez with another header. As Cech pushed it on to the bar he wheeled away in celebration but television replays suggested the officials had made a correct decision; or at very least the only decision they could on the available evidence. By the time of future Cup finals they may have some technological support at last.

There was still time for the lively Carroll to force one more chance, Terry doing better this time with a characteristic block to ensure he made history by lifting the Cup as captain for the fourth time.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires (Meireles, 76), Mata (Malouda, 90), Kalou; Drogba.

Liverpool (4-1-4-1): Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique; Spearing (Carroll, 55); Bellamy (Kuyt, 78), Henderson, Gerrard, Downing; Suarez.

Referee Phil Dowd.

Man of the match Mata.

Match rating 7/10.

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits