Didier Drogba leads Chelsea to 2-1 FA Cup victory

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Didier Drogba leads Chelsea to 2-1 FA Cup victory

WEMBLEY, England - Four goals in four FA Cup finals, and now four winners’ medals for Didier Drogba.

Cementing his status as Chelsea’s player for the big occasions, Drogba clinched a 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Saturday to prove his enduring value to the team at the age of 34.

“He is my hero,’’ midfielder Frank Lampard said. “No striker I have ever played with has scored so many important goals in finals.’’

In fact, no player has ever scored in as many FA Cup finals as Drogba.

“That’s the reason why I came here, to win trophies and to make history with the club,’’ said Drogba, who joined Chelsea in 2004. “The result is great for us, for the fans, for the club. Our fourth FA Cup final, fourth win, fourth trophy.’’

But it could be his last FA Cup as the Ivorian’s contract expires at the end of the season. “He’s not 65. He’s a top professional,’’ Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said when asked about Drogba’s future.

Drogba scored his eighth goal in eight games at Wembley in the 52nd minute of the 131st final of the competition, with Chelsea already leading through Ramires’ deflected 11th-minute strike.

Drogba slotted the ball through defender Martin Skrtel’s legs and into the net after being fed by Lampard as a lethargic Liverpool posed little threat.

That was until Liverpool substitute Andy Carroll breathed life back into the game when he pulled one back in the 64th after teasing his way around Chelsea captain John Terry.

Chelsea had to survive a late, intense Liverpool onslaught, with Carroll believing he had equalized when a close-range header was swatted away on the goal line via the crossbar by goalkeeper Petr Cech. But the referee waved away Liverpool’s appeals for a goal, with replays indicating that the entire ball did not cross the line. And Terry went on to become the first captain to lift the FA Cup four times with the same club.

“It’s fantastic, it’s what we live for,’’ Terry said. “At times people have slated us as too old, past it or not together but as a team we come together and unite when our backs are against the wall.’’

As they have been for most of the season. Chelsea’s freefall, though, was halted after Di Matteo replaced Andre Villas-Boas as coach two months ago until the end of the season.

While Chelsea is still languishing outside of the four Champions League qualification places in sixth place in the English Premier League, the team can win the European Cup for the first time by beating Bayern Munich in two weeks.

AP

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