The Chelsea Power Show

FA Cup Final: The game's up for Middlesbrough inside a minute as Di Mat teo shoots into Wembley history.

EARLY to rise and late to fall upon wounded, pitiable prey, Chelsea secured their first major trophy for 26 years at Wembley yesterday. The fastest goal in FA Cup final history at the stadium, scored spectacularly by Roberto di Matteo after just 43 seconds, set them on their way, Eddie Newton secured the spoils. Italian initiative, English endeavour; it was fithng reflection on a day of overseas influence and domestic tradition.

Poor Middlesbrough. Relegated from the Premiership, beaten now in both major cup finals, they have only pounds 26m worth of memories for daring to dream of flying close to the sun. Too close. Now comes the paying of the price, with the especially admirab le Juninho, 31-goal Fabrizio Ravanelli, participant for only 22 minutes yesterday, and Emerson - less painfully, after his ineffective charging around yesterday - all likely to leave. Breaking up will be hard to do.

Chelsea, meanwhile, will seek to cement their success. Under the enlightened eye of Ruud Gullit, who becomes the first foreign coach to lift an English trophy, they have built on Glenn Hoddle's modernisation programme. An excihng era should await them. Here was it all on view. At the back, Franck Leboeuf was a commanding stopper and elegant instigator of play while, in midfield, man-of-the-match Di Matteo emphasised his blossoming after taking time to bed in. Up front, Mark Hughes, who is now the only player this century with four FA Cup winner's medals, won most of what came his way and the willo' the wisp Gianfranco Zola provided moments of sublime sorcery, even if not as many as Wembley might have desired.

Above all, Chelsea had a change of pace when it mattered, though their failing in a match that rarely hit hoped-for heights was a curious reluctance to be ruthless towards a team of individuals of widely disparate abilities who could only cling on plucki ly when outplayed for long periods as Chelsea largely controlled possession.

Perhaps the weather had something to do with their lassitude. The day was sultry and Wembley dripped with sweat. With so much Brazilian and Italian attacking talent on view - and, it has to be added, two of the most porous Premiership defences - we sough t inspiration and largely saw perspiration. "It was very hot. We had to play it professionally and wait for the right moment," said Gullit, whom the Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson sought to sign two years ago. Bryan Robson could only hold up his han ds. "We didn't perform parhcularly well," said the Middlesbrough manager. "We got well beaten in the end."

But what a start. Middlesbrough kicked off and straightaway advanced at Chelsea. Then when Robbie Mustoe failed to control a short pass from Juninho midway inside Chelsea's half, Dennis Wise nipped in to rob the Boro midfielder and a slick pass infield f ound Di Matteo 10 yards inside his own half. Ahead of him, the Red Sea parted and when no challenge came as he brought the ball forward, he tried his luck from 25 yards. Nothing lucky about it, as it turned out. Ben Roberts, questionably off his line, gr oped thin air as the ball sailed over him and in off the underside of the bar.

Up in the stands sat Concetta, the blind sister of Chelsea's pounds 5m record signing from Lazio. The roars from the Chelsea half of the stadium told her all she needed to know about the bolt from this Blue and no doubt her brother would relate later the vivid detail that needed no embelishment to tell of its quality and dr ama. "It must have been a great feeling for her," he was to say. "It was so emotional for me."

More adversity for Boro arrived before the game was a quarter old. Stretching for a through ball from Juninho that Frank Sinclair cut out, Ravanelli tweaked his hamstring again and was immediately replaced by Mikkel Beck, slow of thought and an inadequat e replacement. Five minutes later, the honest toiler Mustoe pulled up and was replaced by Steve Vickers.

With Juninho forced deeper to seek possession, Chelsea closing down his threat in pairs rather than man-marking, Boro were barely an attacking force and they could have been two down by half-hme. Wise pierced the defence with a ball to Scott Minto, who a lmost forced it through Roberts' legs, and Phil Stamp had to intervene. On the right, Di Matteo found Dan Petrescu and his lob was cleared under the crossbar by the lionhearted Nigel Pearson.

Soon after, up stepped Zola with his first significant contribuhon, a wickedly curling 30 yard free-kick that Roberts turned aside at his left post. Boro did have the ball in the net just before the break, Festa powering in a header from Stamp's cross, b ut an offside flag was raised. Their sense of injustice was fuelled; their fans had jeered the FA officials who docked them those crucial three points, as they shook the hands of the teams.

After the interval came more gestures, but too few and lacking penetration. Festa stabbed just wide after Leboeuf had miscontrolled, Vickers shot straight at Frode Grodas when well placed and Beck, clearly offside, headed home. Otherwise, it seemed a que stion of if and when Chelsea might stir themselves to seal the match.

Zola did his best, dribbling past Vlckers, Clayton Blackmore and Vickers again then firing a shot at the near post, before the deed was done. Newton found Petrescu and his chip to the far post was delicately turned back by Zola to give Newton the simple task of turning home.

No sentiment from Chelsea finally for Boro, though some for their own. On came Gianluca Vialli for two minutes, replacing a smiling Zola. "I'm thinking of Matthew Harding," said Gullit later of the benefactor killed in a helicopter crash during thisseas on. "This is also for him."

The neutral could only spare a thought for Juninho and Boro, deserved as Chelsea's victory was. Red eyes on a Blue day.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks
tv

Regular cast member Ste Hay, played by Kieron Richardson, is about to test TV boundaries

Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
techPerils of 'text neck' revealed
News
i100
News
Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt
peopleStonewall boss says many fear it could ruin their careers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager
Isis in Iraq: Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants

Isis takes a big step back

Baghdad hails the retaking of the Baiji oil refinery as the start of the long fightback against the Islamist militants
Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Bill Cosby: America’s beloved TV ‘dad’ or serial rapist?

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits: How to shop politically

How to shop politically

Ukip silk bow ties, Green Party T-shirts, and 'Iron Baby' romper suits
The science of sex: What happens when science meets erotica

Sex on the brain

Fetishes, dominatrixes, kinks and erotica. They are subjects that should get the crowds flocking to a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection