Chelsea hang on to beat Liverpool 2-1 in Cup final

LONDON Sat May 5, 2012 11:59pm IST

1 of 2. Chelsea's Didier Drogba (R) is challenged by Liverpool's Steven Gerrard during their FA Cup final soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London, May 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Eddie Keogh

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LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea survived a late Liverpool fightback to win the FA Cup final 2-1 on Saturday and lift the trophy for the fourth time in six seasons thanks to goals from Ramires and Didier Drogba.

Chelsea dominated the first half and led through an 11th-minute goal by Ramires and Drogba's clinical strike early in the second half put the London club on course for a comfortable win.

But Liverpool substitute Andy Carroll pulled one goal back and the lanky striker almost equalised with a powerful header, Chelsea keeper Petr Cech clawing the ball out just before it crossed the line and pushing it on to the crossbar.

Drogba became the first player in the 141-year history of the FA Cup to score in four finals and John Terry also added his name to the competition's rich folklore when he became the first player to captain four final-winning teams.

"This is what we play football before," Terry told ITV. "It was a great performance. When the chips are down we come together and we have done that superbly this season."

It was another triumph for Chelsea caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo who took over in March following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas and has also led his side to the Champions League final.

Chelsea took the early advantage when they pounced on a mistake by Liverpool's Jay Spearing who lost possession in midfield to Juan Mata.

He played in Ramires and the Brazilian held off a weak challenge from Jose Enrique before firing low and hard at Pepe Reina.

The Spaniard, who has had a mixed season in the Liverpool goal, compounded Spearing's mistake and Enrique's ineffective challenge with one of his own as the ball bounced off his arm and into the net.

Liverpool responded when Glen Johnson played in a fine ball from the right which was half cleared by Branislav Ivanovic whose header went straight to Craig Bellamy.

The Welsh winger unleashed a fierce shot and Ivanovic redeemed himself with a good block.

That was more or less that from Liverpool before the break and Drogba's crisp low shot put Chelsea in total control of the match until Carroll brought Liverpool back into contention.

Liverpool, inspired by the goal, then took a grip of the game as Chelsea's attacks evporated and Luis Suarez and Carroll both had efforts on goal with Suarez forcing Cech into an important save after 73 minutes and Carroll heading over the bar two minutes later.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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