Chelsea recovered from falling behind to the fastest goal in FA Cup final history to beat Everton 2-1 at Wembley on Saturday in coach Guus Hiddink’s final game in charge of the English club.
England midfielder Frank Lampard scored their winner in the 72nd minute after Didier Drogba had equalized Louis Saha’s opening goal for Everton, which came after just 25 seconds. Lampard cut inside to fire an emphatic left foot strike past Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard who could merely help it into the net. It was Chelsea’s first trophy of a season in which they briefly challenged for the Premier League title and went out in the semifinals of the Champions League in controversial fashion to eventual winners Barcelona. Russian national coach Hiddink took the reigns at Stamford Bridge on a temporary basis in February after the sacking of Luis Felipe Scolari and has presided over a remarkable change in Chelsea’s fortunes. They started as favorites, but it was Everton who made a remarkable start to the final as Belgian international Marouane Felliani cushioned a header for Saha to fire home with an emphatic left foot volley which left Petr Cech clutching at thin air. The strike made FA Cup history and was a dream start for the underdogs, but Florent Malouda was giving Tony Hibbert problems down the left flank, drawing a yellow card for the Everton defender and then forcing his way past him before testing Howard as the ball was scrambled away. Everton did not heed the warning and on 21 minutes Malouda was given space and time to find Drogba with a pinpoint cross which he headed firmly past Howard.
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Everton’s attacks were becoming more sporadic as they struggled to gain meaningful possession in midfield and it was Chelsea who had the best opportunity just before half-time as the ball rebounded kindly for man of the match Ashley Cole, but his shot from an acute angle was sprayed wide. Everton manager David Moyes hauled off the hapless Hibbert at half time to shore up the right side of the Everton defense with Dane Lars Jacobsen. Chelsea also made a change on the hour as Michael Essien went off to be replaced by Michael Ballack in central midfield, but it was Everton who appeared to benefit more from the changes and from a Leighton Baines cross Saha came desperately close to his second of the match as he headed over. Chelsea’s first meaningful attack of the second half came as Cole crossed for Drogba to head into the side-netting at the near post, but soon afterwards Lampard scored after being set up by Nicolas Anelka. Malouda then blazed over from close range and saw a 20-meter effort thump the underside of the crossbar with Chelsea appealing for a goal. For all their endeavor, Everton could offer little in the way of reply and it was the Chelsea players who were celebrating as referee Howard Webb brought the curtain down on the 128th FA Cup final. England full-back Cole entered the record books as he became the only player to win five finals, three of them with former club Arsenal. Meanwhile, north of the border, Rangers completed a domestic double by beating Falkirk 1-0 in the Scottish Cup final in Glasgow, with half-time substitute Nacho Novo scoring a spectacular long-range winner just 29 seconds after coming on.