Chelsea, who were the last team to win the FA Cup at the old Wembley Stadium, became the first winners of the cup at the new Wembley Stadium, thanks to a late extra time strike by Didier Drogba, beating the new Premiership champions Manchester United.
In a cagey match, typical of finals, and even more so where the teams are so evenly matched, the first half went by with neither side creating much in the form of an attacking opportunity. United began the game with five in midfield, asking Giggs to support Rooney up front whenever possible, while Chelsea, who will claim to have run out with a 4-3-3 formation, but were really fielding a 4-5-1 formation as well, with Drogba up front alone. This meant that the midfield was congested and most of the match played around the half way line. Little was shown of Ronaldo, who found it difficult to get into the game, floating in and out, and not being as much of a threat as he had hoped. For Chelsea, Lampard was almost invisible, the player who contributes so many goals from midfield only managing to get into the United box on one occasion. The game was dictated by Vidic and Ferdinand dealing with Drogba, and United failing to get men forward when on the attack, so leaving Ronney with a lot to do by himself. And he tried manfully. On two occasions running at the Chelsea defense, brushing a side Essien, an achievement on its own, and getting into the box only to have Cech or a last ditch defender stop him. In a second half that opened up a bit more, perhaps because of players tyring after a long season, the chances were still coming at a minimum. United enjoyed a spell ten minutes into the half when they really should have scored, with Giggs getting on the end of Rooney cross that just needed a touch on either side of Cech. Unfortunately for Giggs, who was aiming to become the most successful player in FA Cup history, looking for a 5th title that would have edged him ahead of ex teammates Hughes, and Keane, he could only direct the ball straight at Cech. Another chance fell to Rooney as he received a sublime ball from Scholes, that fell over the Chelsea defence, onto the feet of Rooney, who’s touch let him down with only Cech to beat. United were to rue those missed opportunities.
The game went into extra time for the 3rd successive FA Cup Final, and just as in the final against Arsenal two years ago, United failed to make their dominance count. Scholes was controlling the midfield, playing deep, but using his passing abilities to maximum affect. The United defence was untroubled, and Rooney was trying his hardest to win the game for United. With players tiring, Carrick at one stage pulling up with every pass, Robben suffering the effects of just coming back from injury, and the game approaching penalties, Chelsea struck. Drogba, who lost 90% of the physical battle with Vidic throughout the game, got on the end of a Lampard flick, the only meaningful piece of play from Lampard, and finished brilliantly, to break the hearts of the United players and fans, and give Jose Marinho his first FA Cup title, and thus completing his domestic collection.
The match was not the attacking classic that had been hoped would bless the new Wembley, but rather the tight, cagey, midfield battle that was to be expected, with the two best teams in the country playing the last game in a long domestic season. Chelsea, having lost the league to United, will take heart from this win, even though they were perhaps second best in the match itself. They took their chance, something United failed to do. United for their parts will be pleased to have come away with the league title, but will be worried by the trend of losing the last two FA Cup Finals that they have contested, both games that they dominated and should have won, but failed to do so.
In the end United take away the league title, the trophy they wanted most of all, and Chelsea both domestic cups, and the rest of the league have to wonder how they are going to catch these two next season.