Di Matteo and Kenny Dalglish walked out into the Wembley spotlight today both having won the FA Cup in their playing careers with the clubs that they know manage . Di Matteo won the cup in 1998 and Dalglish in 1986. The Scot also won the competition in 1989 during his first managerial stint in charge of Liverpool. The Merseyside team were looking to add to their Caring Cup victory this season and Chelsea were also chasing a cup double, with their Champions League final in two weeks’ time.
Neither Carroll nor Torres were in their teams starting line-up, meaning £85 million worth on talent sat on the bench. Drogba led from the front for Chelsea and Suarez was the lone striker for Liverpool. However in the early stages of the game both strikers saw little of the ball and the pace in midfield was slow. It resembled a training ground kick around, instead of a Wembley cup final.
After 10 minutes the monotony was broken when Spearing made a sloppy pass in midfield that Lampard intercepted. The midfielder made a great pass to Ramires who ran the ball into the Liverpool half. The Brazilian shrugged off Jose Enrique and shot low at the Liverpool goal. Reina was partly at fault for letting such an easy goal past him and he knew it as he punched the ground in frustration while Chelsea celebrated.
A few minutes later Liverpool had their first chance of the game when Johnson crossed the ball in from the right-wing. The ball came to Bellemy who volleyed it well but the shot was saved off the line by Ivanovic.
For the rest of the first half, Liverpool were poor and uncreative. Their play resembled their woeful League form this season rather than their impressive cup performances. Suarez looked increasingly frustrated with the lack of delivery from his players. Downing, Gerrard and Bellemy played too deep and couldn’t make advances into the Chelsea half.
The second-half started perfectly for Chelsea. Lampard gained possession in space and fed the ball to Drogba. The Ivorian turned and controlled the ball skillfully inside the Liverpool box before shooting through Skrtel's legs and past Reina. It was Drogba’s 5th goal in FA Cup finals, equalling ex-Liverpool striker Iain Rush’s record. Drogba also became the first player to score in 4 FA Cup finals.
Soon after the second goal Andy Carroll was introduced by Liverpool and they immediately responded in a more attacking manner. The game became more stretched and in the 63rd minute Carroll scored. Bosingwa tried to clear the ball from defence but it took a deflection and landed in front of Carroll who was standing right in front of goal. The tall striker had a few touched before blasting the ball above Cech and into the back of the net.
This galvanised Liverpool and they started playing more confidently. Chelsea’s defence looked shaky and was almost punished in the 81st minute when Carroll met Suarez's cross. Carroll's header looked to have beaten Cech and the Liverpool strikers started celebrating. However the linesman said the ball did not cross the line. Replays showed that the official’s decision was the correct one and Cech had made a brilliant save onto his own crossbar.
Liverpool kept up their attack for the rest of the game and Chelsea looked disorganised and exhausted. However they somehow managed to hold on until the final whistle, securing the FA Cup once again. It was the seventh FA Cup win for Ashley Cole, having won it on three occasions with Arsenal and now four with Chelsea.
Di Matteo was hoisted into the air by his players, having won the FA Cup as player and now as manager. But the the Italian, and the team, will be looking towards their Champions League final against Bayren Munich in two weeks’ time for their biggest game of the season.