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Tottenham 2 - 1 Chelsea


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Tottenham Hotspur 2 - 1 Chelsea F.C.

Sunday 24 February 2008, Carling Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, London


A Didier Drogba strike was cancelled out by Dimitar Berbatov's penalty and a header from Jonathon Woodgate as Spurs claimed the 2008 Carling Cup.

The London rivals fought on a fiercely-contested encounter in typical derby fashion as Tottenham bid to win their first silverware under Juande Ramos. The new Spurs manager inspired his side to victory although they were forced to come from behind when Didier Drogba netted a freekick from 25 yards. Spurs levelled through Dimitar Berbatov in the second half, the Bulgarian striking home from the spot after Wayne Bridge was judged to have handled in the penalty area. Jonathon Woodgate completed the comeback, beating Petr Cech from close range from a Jermaine Jenas freekick. Chelsea put the Tottenham goal under siege but were unable to break down the North London side's defence as Spurs held out for a famous victory in the first League Cup final to be held at the magnificent Wembley stadium

Spurs had started the better of the two teams and could have had the lead after just 25 seconds, but for a superb block by Chelsea skipper John Terry. Pascal Chimbonda then rattled the crossbar with a looping header whilst Drogba went close with a freekick for the Blues.

For his biggest game as Chelsea coach, Avram Grant selected both Frank Lampard and John Terry despite intense media reports stating the senior players would be rested. Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel featured in the midfield whilst Nicolas Anelka played as part of a front three also bragging Drogba and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Joe Cole and Michael Ballack were dropped to the bench along with Ashley Cole - Wayne Bridge preferred at left full-back.

Juliano Belletti, favoured over former Porto defender Renato Paulo Ferreira, started nervously and inexplicably rolled the ball into the path of Robbie Keane with ten seconds played, the Spurs striker latching on to the Brazilian's weak pass. Working into a yard of space, the Spurs vice-captain launched a rasping drive which was diverted wide by the brilliance of John Terry; the England captain launching himself to block the ball.

Spurs were dominant and should have gone ahead when Dimitar Berbatov out-muscled John Terry and got himself between the Chelsea number 26 and Ricardo Carvalho. The Bulgarian won his free header but could only look on as the ball bounced wide of Cech's right-hand post and out of play for a goalkick. Nevertheless, Spurs' early tenacity almost resulted in an early breakthrough, though Pascal Chimbonda, playing his second league cup final in three seasons, could only loop his header against the woodwork with Cech well beaten.

But Chelsea's quality was beginning to show, and a succession of free kicks resulted in their taking the lead. First Lampard's freekick was deflected over before Drogba curled inches wide from 20 yards. The Ivorian, fouled by Didier Zokora, dusted himself down for his second opportunity and struck the ball brilliantly over the wall and into the bottom corner of Paul Robinson's goal. It was an undeserved breakthrough but underlined the importance of taking chances.

But several lapses of concentration in the Chelsea defence during the second half resulted in their undoing, but goalkeeper Petr Cech was doing brilliantly to hang on to his clean sheet. Robbie Keane volleyed goalwards but his effort was well caught, before the Czech beat Berbatov to the ball moments later after Keane attempted to feed the Bulgarian inside the box. Cech, who had earlier denied Malbranque with a fine save, was again called into action to punch away a Berbatov drive and brilliantly deny Didier Zokora his first Spurs goal, but he was left helpless when Spurs were awarded a penalty kick.

Wayne Bridge was deemed to have handled and Berbatov coolly rolled the ball into the net from the resulting spot kick. Cech went the wrong way and was furious with his defence for not clearing the ball long before Bridge's unintentional hand-ball. Robbie Keane volleyed over in the dying seconds though Spurs would only be forced to wait four minutes into extra time to win the game. Woodgate raced on beyond his marker and fortunate favoured the defender as Cech's punch hit him on the shoulder. The ball bounced across the line and Spurs managed to weather the Chelsea storm, though Robinson was forced into fantastic saves from a Lampard freekick and Kalou at close range, thus denying the Blues back-to-back Carling Cups.

Match Fact : Chelsea are unbeaten in the Carling Cup in normal time since February 2004.

Tottenham: Robinson, Hutton, Woodgate, King, Chimbonda (Huddlestone 61), Lennon, Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque (Tainio 75), Berbatov, Keane (Kaboul 102).
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Bent.

Booked: Zokora, Tainio, Lennon, Jenas.

Goals: Berbatov 70 pen, Woodgate 94.

Chelsea: Cech (6), Belletti (5), Carvalho (6), Terry (7), Bridge (6), Wright-Phillips (5) (Kalou (6)), Essien (6) (Ballack (6)), Lampard (6), Mikel (7) (Joe Cole (7)), Anelka (4), Drogba (5).
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Alex.

Booked: Mikel, Carvalho.

Goals: Drogba 39.

Attendance: 87,660.

Referee: Mark Halsey

Man of the Match : John Obi Mikel

Edited by BlueLion
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