Didier Drogba’s love affair with FA Cup finals

Ben Darvill

When anyone asks who is a man that always came good in the final of a competition there will be a lot of voices saying a lot of different names. In England though there is one player that stands out and became synonymous with scoring in finals and winning games for his team.

Of course the forward in question is Chelsea’s legendary striker Didier Drogba.

The Ivory Coast international made a habit of netting big goals for the Blues and has cemented himself as one of the club’s greatest ever players. From his early days of diving and barren scoring runs, Drogba turned it all around to find iconic status.

The Ivorian’s affinity for scoring big goals was no stronger than in the FA Cup Final. The forward netted no less than four FA Cup Final goals. So crack open a beer, kick back and enjoy one of the most prolific of FA Cup final fishers.

2007 FA Cup Final: Chelsea 1 Manchester United 0

The first FA Cup Final at the new Wembley failed to really live up to the expectation on the goals front but it was a massively dramatic event. Manchester United were battling for the Double and, incredibly, so were Chelsea.

The game was packed with talent with Drogba, Frank Lampard and Arjen Robben in the Chelsea team, while Cristiano Rondalo, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs played for United. This class struggled to produce a goal though as the fans had to wait a painstaking 116 minutes before they could celebrate or hold their head in their hands.

Drogba’s goal was a thing of real class and worthy of winning any final. The forward played the ball to Lampard who flick it behind the defence before Drogba dinked the ball over the onrushing Edwin van der Sar.

In all honesty it was the type of goal that you would try to recreate on the pitch behind your friend’s house a thousand times over, but Lampard’s flick and Drogba’s finish were utterly sublime, it was done in an FA Cup Final and it worked first time. Outrageous stuff.

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2009 FA Cup Final: Chelsea 2 Everton 1

Chelsea were looking to send interim manager Guus Hiddink off with a FA Cup Final win, as they took on an Everton side that had dispatched Manchester United in the previous round. Drogba’s goal this time was a very different one for Chelsea but it was no less vital.

After Louis Saha’s first-minute strike the Blues were under massive pressure to hit back quickly and they did just that through the forward. Florent Malouda’s ball into the corridor of uncertainty between goalkeeper and defence found Drogba who threw himself at the ball to head it into the bottom corner.

It was one of those goals that looks great but is pretty dangerous to try. Drogba displayed a lot of courage to put his head where the boots are and he was rewarded for it.

Chelsea went on to win the game through Lampard but it was once again Drogba who stepped up when the Blues needed him most.

2010 FA Cup Final: Chelsea 1 Portsmouth 0

This was the cruellest goal of them all; Portsmouth had reached the final and more than held their own against Chelsea in the final. In fact, they had a golden chance to go ahead with a penalty after Juliano Belletti had felled Aruna Dindane in the box, but Kevin Prince-Boateng saw his penalty saved.

Less than five minutes later Drogba punished the miss with a sublime free-kick. He took advantage of the fact that David James was obviously terrified of the forward’s ability to get the ball up and over the wall to instead fire it past the goalkeeper on his side.

To get sense of the heartbreak, imagine playing the one friend on FIFA that you have never beaten, they cynically take you down and give you a penalty. Instead of blasting it at the top corner you drill it down the middle, but the awful new penalty system on the game sees the ball dribble at the ‘keeper who saves it. He then goes up the other end and scores. If Avram Grant was holding a controller at this point it would have been smashed to pieces.

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This was Drogba’s third goal in as many finals and, low and behold, it was the striker’s third win in three FA Cup finals, too.

2012 FA Cup final: Chelsea 2 Liverpool 1

This final is famous for a number of reasons, not least the fact Chelsea made it four victories in the FA Cup Final, in four appearances there since the new Wembley was finished.

Ramires fired in the opener before Drogba once again struck. Some sublime feet from Lampard saw the midfielder find space in the midfield and he played a perfectly weighted ball through to Drogba who took a fantastic touch to get the ball onto his left foot before firing it into the bottom corner past Pepe Reina.

The strike gave the Blues a 2-0 lead and it proved to be the winner too as Chelsea recorded their latest win in the FA Cup.

There was then a huge furore about Andy Carrol’s supposed ‘equaliser’ but in actual fact it was an outstanding save by Petr Cech to parry the ball onto the bar and to safety. To this day Liverpool fans still say it was a goal while, funnily enough, Blues fans are still laughing.

Drogba has become one of the most prolific scorers in the history of FA Cup finals and he is worthy of the tag of a legend in the competition. While his greatest goal may have come in the Champions League in Germany against Bayern Munich, he will always be remembered by Chelsea fans as the biggest big game player.

 

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