So, I thought we’d cover this match live this afternoon. Everton haven’t played in a major cup final since the 1995 FA Cup Final when they beat Manchester United 1-0 thanks to a goal from Paul Rideout, of all people. Chelsea won the FA Cup in 2007, also beating Manchester United 1-0 in a match so boring that I fell asleep ten minutes in. It’s a bit weird already, truth be told. Kofi Annan will be presenting the trophy, and the national anthem is being sung by a finalist from last year’s “Britain’s Got Talent”. ITV, of course, have got time for an advert break. Back in three minutes.
The teams, by the way, are as follows:
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Ashley Cole, Essien, Mikel, Lampard, Anelka, Drogba, Malouda. Subs: Hilario, Ivanovic, Di Santo, Ballack, Kalou, Belletti, Mancienne.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Yobo, Lescott, Baines, Osman, Neville, Pienaar, Cahill, Fellaini, Saha. Subs: Nash, Castillo, Vaughan, Jacobsen, Rodwell, Gosling, Baxter.
15.00: GOAL! Chelsea 0-1 Everton – It’s the fastest goal in FA Cup final history! A cross isn’t particularly well dealt with and Louis Saha drives the ball past Petr Cech. Twenty-five seconds on the clock. Unbelievable start.
15.05: Magnificent goal from Saha, and it has caught everyone on the hop. No team, Clive Tyldesley reminds us, has come from behind to win the FA Cup since 1991, when Spurs beat Nottingham Forest 2-1.
15.09: Harsh yellow card for Tony Hibbert, for what looked like an accidental trip. Frank Lampard lumps the resulting free kick straight out of play. According to Clive, the Everton players call Louis Saha “King Louie”, which, well, furrows my brow somewhat.
15.16: A lobbed ball through the middle almost lets Fellaini through, but Cech comes out and collects. Look, I mean to come over tabloid here but, man, Fellaini’s hair is the best hair that I have seen in an FA Cup final for donkeys years. If he hadn’t had it like this all season, you’d suspect that it was a tribute to Alan Sunderland in the 1979 FA Cup Final. Only better.
15.21: GOAL! Chelsea 1-1 Everton: Great cross from the left hand side by Malouda, and Didier Drogba heads into the corner of the net to bring Chelsea level. Slightly slack defending by Joleon Lescott, who was supposed to be marking Drogba but didn’t get nearly close enough to him.
15.25: After an understandably shaky start, Chelsea are looking in control of this. Frank Lampard shoots over again, although this time the ball is, well, near-ish the goal.
15.27: Nasty tackle by Michael Essien on Fellaini, and he’s lucky not to pick up a yellow card. Fellaini and – thankfully – his hair are both okay. His nickname is “Screech”, according to Clive. This is almost certainly the first time that “Saved By The Bell” has been mentioned on the television during an FA Cup Final.
15.32: Anelka mishits a hot straight at Howard. Meanwhile, I have the theme music to “Saved By The Bell” stuck in my head. Here it is.
15.35: Why does a flamingo flash across the screen at the start of those opening titles, then? That’s what high school is all about, obviously. Flamingoes. I would be more excited about the Everton player’s nickname for Fellaini was “Dustin Diamond”, for the actor that played Screech.
15.40: No wonder they’re playing this one at a slow tempo. ITV have just shown the pitchside thermometer and it’s 41 degrees centigrade out there, which means that it’s probably hot enough to fry an egg on Nicolas Anelka’s head.
15.44: Little Ashley Cole gets a bit of space on the right hand side but screws his shot wide. Meanwhile, Didier Drogba has been injured but both sides played on rather than putting it out so that he can receive attention. The boy that cried wolf, he is.
Half-Time: Chelsea 1-1 Everton: Not a bad first half, though pretty sluggish because of the weather. I’d still fancy Chelsea to win it , though Everton have recovered well from the equaliser and started to look dangerous again in the couple of minutes leading up to the break.
16.06: Well, the second half in under way, with no changes having been made. We’ve lasted a minute without someone scoring, too. Yellow card for Phil Neville for a high tackle on John Obi Mikel.
16.11: During the first half, Clive said that the estimated TV audience for this match is higher than it was for the Champions League final on Wednesday night – over 500,000,000 people. Can this possibly be true? I mean, I was out in Brighton at 2.20 and the streets were showing no signs of emptying in anticipation of this match.
16.16: Ten minutes played in the second half, and there’s not a whole lot going on at Wembley. I like that Everton are wearing white socks this afternoon, by the way. It makes them look, well, like Everton. Meanwhile, Michael Ballack is warming up for Chelsea. What this match needs is an atrocious refereeing decision to wake it up.
16.21: Michael Ballack is preparing to come on, while Nicolas Anelka lobs Howard, only to see the ball drop just over the crossbar. Its the closest we’ve come to a goal in the second half so far. Meanwhile, did you know that Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played Zack in “Saved By The Bell”, speaks fluent Dutch? Don’t say you don’t learn anything on here. Ballack comes on for Michael Essien.
16.27: Here’s the theme to “Saved By The Bell: The College Years”, which I haven’t had the good fortune to see. There were two TV movies made, too. The character of Screech’s real name was Samuel Powers. I did not know that. Meanwhile, Louis Saha flashes a header over, and really should have scored. One chance each in the second half, then.
16.32: Malouda, taking full advantage of being in the shade, bursts away down the left and crosses but the ball hits Drogba (as opposed to Drogba hitting the ball) and it sails wide.
16.33: GOAL! Chelsea 2-1 Everton: Frank Lampard is given far too much space on the edge of the penalty area and shoots – Tim Howard gets a hand – on second viewing, possibly both hands – on the ball but can’t keep it out, and Chelsea are in front. Not terribly good goalkeeping, there.
16.36: Florent Malouda has a great chance to tie the game up. He’s probably offside when the ball is fed through to him, but he shoots over from eight yards. Meanwhile, Stephen Pienaar is receiving treatment and James Vaughan is getting ready to come on. Vaughan comes on for Pienaar.
16.39: Florent Malouda shoots from thirty yards and the ball comes back off the underside of the crossbar. It looked as if it might have just bounced behind the line, but they haven’t shown the replay yet. Man, I wouldn’t want ot be a linesman. The replay shows that the ball did bounce a couple of inches over the line. Perhaps I should be a linesman.
16.44: It would, I have to say, be pretty funny if Everton levelled things up now. I can say that pretty secure in the knowledge that they won’t, because they haven’t managed any sustained pressure since the Chelsea goal. Lampard takes a dive in the penalty area, but escapes a yellow card somehow. Edit: My bad. He gets a yellow card while I was distracted.
16.48: Four minutes to play, and the Man of The Match is Ashley Cole, who has played – gallingly – very well this afternoon. Everton can’t get the ball out of their own half at the moment.
16.50: The ITV cameras have already started scanning the crowd for sobbing Evertonians. David Moyes looks furious with his players. Tim Cahill drags a shot wide, but it didn’t look like troubling Cech. There will be four added minutes.
16.53: Anelka gets through and lobs Howard, but the ball drops over the crossbar. Chelsea are comfortably playing out the last couple of minutes now.
Full Time: Chelsea 2-1 Everton – Chelsea have been deserved winners, in the end. Everton only briefly threatened after going one up inside thirty seconds. In the last quarter of the match, Everton simply didn’t show eneough invention to work their way through the Chelsea defence, which is best demonstrated by the fact that Petr Cech didn’t even have to make a single save of note. Guus Hiddink will leave Stamford Bridge on a high, having brought together a team that seemed capable only of fighting its way out of a paper bag prior to his arrival. They’re going to miss him, and it’s difficult to see how they can effectively replace him, even after just a few months. In the end, Everton were somewhat fortunate that it didn’t end up being 3-1 or 4-1.