After five years without winning a trophy, John Terry lifted the Carling Cup in Cardiff yesterday. It was the first major trophy lifted by our inspirational young captain, the first trophy under Jose Mourinho and the first under Roman Abramovich, I’m certain it won’t be the last by any means as this team have a great future ahead of them. The atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium was electric and the electricity generated more and more until the final whistle. It was a game of high drama and fitting for a cup final. Jose made one change from the team that were defeated by Barcelona in mid-week as Jiri Jarošik came in to the starting eleven at the expense of Tiago. In the 2002 FA Cup Final I’m sure people will remember that on that day Roberto Di Matteo lead out the team, yesterday Mourinho gave that honour to Carlo Cudicini who was due to play in the final, yet after getting sent off last week against Newcastle, he missed out, but what a fantastic piece of man management by Mourinho as I’m sure Carlo felt sad at the thought of missing out on another big day as Ed De Goey was ‘keeper during the 2002 FA Cup Final.
The game started spectacularly enough, inside 45 seconds we were 0-1 down, no thanks to a thunderbolt of a volley from John Arne Riise. A Morientes cross from the right caught Paulo Ferreira out of position and as the ball fell to Riise on his left foot, it was dispatched with venom and flew past Petr Cech. It was the quickest ever goal in a League Cup Final beating Joseph Desire Job’s effort for Middlesbrough against Bolton last season. However, it was probably the worst start for Liverpool because after that they defended for the majority of the game only coming out on the odd occasion as Chelsea tried to get the equaliser. Frank Lampard gave us some hope after Steven Gerrard, or should that be Stevie OG hauled down John Terry about 25 yards from goal. Lamps struck the free kick fiercely, however dodgy keeper Dudek held on gratefully. As Chelsea pressed it was Didier Drogba next who came the closest to getting the equaliser. A through ball by the impressive Joe Cole found Drogba but his toe poke under pressure went past the post with Dudek getting some kind of touch on it as the ball went out for a corner.
The first half came and went with the score remaining 0-1. Mourinho took off Jarošik and bought on Eidur Gudjohnsen in search of the equaliser. Liverpool again were pegged back into their own half trying to keep hold of their 1-0 advantage as an Eidur Gudjohnsen header and a William Gallas follow up bought about a double save from Dudek in the 54th minute. With Chelsea attacking it was only on a rare occasion that Liverpool would break and come forward, Dietmar Hamann had one of those occasions as a ball played through to him by Nunez bought out a magnificent save from Petr Cech. Stevie OG then had an effort that was intercepted by Paulo Ferreira when it looked like the Liverpool man would score, after that it all went a bit Pete Tong for Gerrard. From a throw out by Cech, the ball found Lampard who was unceremoniously hauled down by Hamann who got booked, referee Steve Bennett could and should have played the advantage as Joe Cole was in acres of space, however the ball was bought back for the free kick. The free kick was hit into the Liverpool area by Lampard and with a great back header Liverpool captain Gerrard scored an own goal (Hence Stevie OG!) it was 1-1 and we were back in it!
As the Chelsea fans celebrated Jose Mourinho was sent off, he’d walked past a small handful of Liverpool fans with his finger to his lips, the fourth official went into a strop and ordered Mourinho off of the touchline and down the tunnel. It seems as though officials these days are trying to be bigger than the game itself because Mourinho wasn’t directing the order to the Liverpool fans to be quiet he was just walking up and down with his finger to his lips. After the goal, Joe Cole came off and Glen Johnson came on, we reverted back to our 4-3-3 formation and again started to press as Damien Duff had his effort blocked by Dudek. At full time it was 1-1, with Liverpool not really having too many ideas it looked odds on that we’d finish the game, as we were far more impressive and deserved the victory.
In the first minute of the first period of extra time a cross by Damien Duff on the left found Didier Drogba and with a scorching header hit the post. Liverpool then had an effort with Biscan heading over. Nothing changed in the first period of extra time, as the score remained 1-1. With 15 minutes to go it was going to be now or the lottery of penalty kicks. Could we step up and get the win? We surely did. In the 106th minute a long throw in slightly reminiscent of Ian Hutchinson’s in the 1970 FA Cup Final evaded everybody except Didier Drogba who managed to get the ball over the line, 2-1 and we were on our way. Five minutes later it was 3-1, a free kick taken by Frank Lampard out wide was turned away by Dudek, the ball found Eidur who knocked it back into the area, it came to Kezman about a yard out who knocked the ball over the line with Dudek trying to scramble it away. It was a clear goal and one that both the linesman and referee saw. All of the Chelsea players ran to celebrate with Kezman and were overjoyed for him in scoring his fourth goal of the season.
With six minutes to go however, from being in a very comfortable position it got a bit nervy as Liverpool got a goal back. A Free kick by Garcia on the left was knocked into the box; Petr Cech couldn’t quite gather the ball and Nunez headed the ball in. With a minute to go Cech made a vital save and it remained 3-2. It was a fantastic day, our first trophy of the season amidst great celebration and the first medal for a lot of our players. Mark Hughes said when he played for Chelsea that when you lift your first trophy others will follow, he wasn’t wrong. This is the start of something great, keep the faith and above all keep the blue flag flying high!
Chelsea: Cech, Ferreira, Terry, Carvalho, Gallas (Kezman 74), Makelele, Lampard, Jarošik (Gudjohnsen 45) Cole (Johnson 81), Duff, Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Pidgley, Tiago.
Liverpool: Dudek, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore (Biscan 67), Luis Garcia, Stevie OG, Hamann, Riise, Kewell (Nunez 56), Morientes (Baros 74)
Subs Not Used: Pellegrino, Carson.
Referee: Steve Bennett.