Ashley Cole done his best impression of Chris Waddle this afternoon as he horribly ballooned his penalty in this afternoon’s FA Cup 4th round tie with Everton that ultimately ended Chelsea’s campaign.
Last season’s double winners, already out of the Premier League title race now only have the Champions League to concentrate on following their FA Cup exit at Stamford Bridge. They also have an important task in making sure they qualify for next season’s Champions League, either by winning this season’s competition or finishing in the top 4 of the Premier League.
The tie lived up to how most of us expected it, tight. A Frank Lampard free kick in the first half was deflected onto his own post by Phil Jagielka. Tim Howard twice denied Florent Malouda in the first half.
Both sides had opportunities in the second half, Frank Lampard missing a guilt-edge chance late on before Everton’s Marouane Fellaini had a goal disallowed for narrowly being offside.
Chelsea were the better side in extra time and it was Frank Lampard who slotted in the opener in the 104th minute. The holders, unbeaten in 15 FA Cup matches coming into this match (last defeat versus Barnsley in 2008) were looking comfortable at this stage with Everton not causing a threat in extra time.
But at 1-0 it only takes 1 chance to change things and that’s exactly what Leighton Baines had in mind when he fired home a free kick 1 minute from time.
Penalties followed. Frank Lampard opened the scoring before Baines had his penalty saved by Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal. 2 penalties later and Chelsea had a 2-1 lead when Nicolas Anelka stepped us. His laid back style and short run up backfired as Tim Howard dived the right way to get a hand on his penalty and palm it away. Mikel Arteta, Michael Essien and Johnny Heitinga scored afterwards to make it 3-3 before Ashley Cole stepped up and slammed his over the bar. Phil Neville duly converted Everton’s winner into the top corner to send Everton into the last 16 where they will face Reading.
For Chelsea, now out of the FA Cup and Premier League, you would think if Carlo Ancelotti is to keep his job going into next season, his team must now win the Champions League – the trophy missing from Roman Abramovich’s collection. Presumably that was what Chelsea had in mind when they signed Fernando Torres and David Luiz at the end of January.
Manchester United are currently 5/2 favourites to win the FA Cup.