Next Monday will be the seventh anniversary of Chelsea’s fifth FA Cup victory.
On 30 May, 2009, Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea side capped off a memorable season with a dramatic victory over David Moyes’ Everton. With Hiddink stepping in as caretaker manager after the dismissal of Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Dutchman led the Blues on a memorable cup adventure, culminating with the Wembley showpiece final.
And with Hiddink again departing Stamford Bridge this summer after another fateful spell in the manager’s hotseat, that day remains the highpoint of his two tenures in charge of the Blues.
In 2009, Hiddink oversaw a strong end to the season on all fronts as Chelsea secured third place in the Premier League in addition to their cup triumph, and were only denied the opportunity for revenge on Manchester United after they were cheated out of the Champions League.
This time round, sadly, Hiddink’s arrival failed to spark a similar surge in form, though the Dutchman did well to steer the Blues clear of relegation fears and into the top half of the table – impressive considering they were 16th with just fifteen points near the half-way stage of the league campaign.
After disposing of Arsenal in the semi-finals, Chelsea faced Everton in the final, and found themselves behind after just 25 seconds when Louis Saha pivoted to volley the Toffees ahead. It was the fastest goal in an FA Cup final – surpassing Roberto di Matteo’s strike after 42 seconds twelve years earlier in 1997.
Nevertheless, Chelsea responded strongly, and with twenty minutes played, Florent Malouda crossed in invitingly for Didier Drogba to net his sixth goal in as many finals for Chelsea. In May 2012, against Bayern Munich, he would go on to extend that tally to nine in nine.
On the stroke of half-time, Ashley Cole wasted a glorious chance to give Chelsea – dressed in yellow – a deserved lead heading into the break, whilst on the hour mark Nicolas Anelka lifted a deft lob inches over the crossbar.
Everton might have retaken the lead when Saha flashed a header just over Petr Cech’s crossbar, but with twenty minutes remaining, Frank Lampard turned on the edge of the box before launching a sumptuous effort past Tim Howard.
Man-of-the-match Malouda, who first wastefully fired over after being played through by Lampard, then had what would have been the goal of the season wrongfully chalked off after Howard Webb deemed his 25-yard volley hadn’t crossed the line. The ball had – quite clearly – but, thankfully, again against Merseyside opposition, this decision did not come back to haunt the Blues.
Though Chelsea’s FA Cup journey this season may had ended disappointingly – ironically against Everton at Goodison Park – incoming manager Antonio Conte will no doubt be aiming for further cup success to add to his achievements as both player and manager in Serie A.