Guus Hiddink led Chelsea to their first trophy for two years as his side hit back from a goal down to beat Everton in the FA Cup final 2 – 1.
The victory brought to an end the Dutchman’s brief role with the club which began with an FA Cup game against Watford at Vicarage Road in February, coincidentally, also a match in which they fell behind. Hiddink now leaves Chelsea to return to his full time job of managing Russia.
Lampard celebrates after scoring the winner
To start with, it looked like his day would not be turning out the way he wanted. Just 25 seconds had elapsed when Steven Pienaar’s cross was only half-cleared by Jon Mikel Obi and Marouane Fellaini headed down for Louis Saha to smash the ball past Petr Cech. It was the fastest goal in FA Cup final history and it clearly rattled the pre-game favourites.
But as Chelsea got in to their stride, the game changed. Florent Malouda, perhaps the most improved player under Hiddink, enjoyed repeated success down the left and began to give Tony Hibbert a somewhat torrid afternoon. Given acres of space it was Malouda who, on 21 minutes, found himself completely unmarked from Frank Lampard’s pass and crossed for Didier Drogba to head home the equaliser.
Having had a hand in Chelsea’s opener, Lampard won it for the London club with 18 minutes remaining.
Wearing his trademark adidas adiPure II’s, the England midfielder collected Michael Ballack’s pass, turned inside Phil Neville, and, despite losing his footing, let fly with a tremendous strike that was still rising as it flew into the top corner. To celebrate, Lampard re-created the goal celebration round the corner flag made famous by his father Frank Snr when West Ham beat Everton in a cup match almost 30 years ago.
It could have been even more comfortable for Chelsea – Malouda should have done better when released by Lampard and then the Frenchman ‘s long range effort hit the bar and bounced over the line but it wasn’t given by the officials.
But it mattered not to award-winner Lampard nor to Hiddink who couldn’t contain his joy at the end saying:
It was one of the biggest achievements of my career, winning in the Mecca of world football.
The FA Cup is something you truly cannot believe.
We had some wonderful performances in the Premier League and also in the Champions League and this is the highlight, to win the FA Cup.
I loved it so much, I enjoyed working with big stars but they knew what it’s all about. They showed in the Premier League and Champions League and here, a lot of character.
We have worked so hard since February and I respect these guys very much.