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Chelsea 2 - 1 Arsenal


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Chelsea swept aside Arsenal's young guns in the Carling Cup Final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium with an emphatic 2-1 win in the first-ever all-London final.Chelsea were made to work hard however, against an inexperienced Arsenal team who were certainly unfazed by the occasion. Arsenal's Theo Walcott opened the scoring with his first goal for his club, which set the tempo for a memorable encounter.After the excellent midweek result against Porto at the Estadio Do Dragao, José Mourinho fielded a full-strength team against Arsene Wenger's triumphant young talent who had battled through the rounds to reach the final. Amazingly, skipper John Terry had been declared fit for Chelsea, despite suffering ankle ligament damage against F.C. Porto in midweek, and returned to captain the side, though he would not be able to play the whole game.

_42612141_stadium_afp416.jpgThe Millennium Stadium fills up prior to kick-off.

Despite being underdogs, Arsenal fought bravely and pushed the Champions to their limits, but the mettle and incisiveness of the West London outfit outmatched the class and youth of Arsenal's young team. The opening exchanges were very much Arsenal's, with the Gunners receiving much more of the ball. And it was Arsenal who struck first with Julio Baptista's stunning strike being expertly palmed away by the impressive Petr Cech. And, following the flow of the opening minutes, Arsenal took the lead in emphatic fashion. Teenager Theo Walcott spun on the edge of the area and buried a curling effort past the despairing dive of Cech. It was the youngster's first goal for Arsenal after his transfer from Southampton some 13 months earlier. The goal came out of Chelsea's own making, as the Blues failed to convincingly clear a corner, before Diaby and Walcott exchanged passes for the young Englishman to slot home.Chelsea had been underperforming, and this was to prove the wake-up call that the Champions wanted. Michael Ballack, who had been quiet for much of the opening quarter of an hour, floated a beautiful ball to an unmarked Didier Drogba, who sliced through the Arsenal defence to slot underneath the rushing Manuel Almunia. Drogba scored to put Chelsea level, and score his 27th goal of a phenomenal season. There was some controversy over the goal, though replays gave evidence that Drogba was in line with the last defender, and the goal stood.Arsenal continued to dominate, however, and but for a wonderful intervention from Ricardo Carvalho, Jeremie Aliadiere would surely have scored a second for the Gunners. Half-time arrived with both sides level at the interval, and the game had been bright and very open. The last league Cup Final to be held at the magnificent Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was surely on the way to becoming the best. Chelsea brought on Arjen Robben for Claude Makelele after the interval, hoping to open up their congested midfield, but the opening exchanges of the second half were once again very much Arsenal's. It took the formidable Petr Cech to prevent them from building what would have been an impressive lead, with a terrific save from Diaby and narrowing the angle for Cesc Fabregas to shoot wide. But the turning point of game was not a stunning strike from distance or a bad refereeing decision, but another injury to Chelsea captain John Terry. Challenging for a low ball with his head his head was accidentally thrashed by the boot of Abou Diaby. He was left unconscious, though was breathing when he left the field. Stretched off, Michael Essien filled the void of centre-back, and John Mikel Obi replaced the Blues skipper, who passed his armband to vice-captain Frank Lampard._42612395_diaby_pa416.jpgJohn Terry is struck on the head by Abou DiabyThe injury inspired Chelsea onwards, and Frank Lampard's wonderstrike from 35 yards seemed to be the winner – but bounced off the crossbar and over. But Chelsea were not finished, and Arsenal’s young legs were loosing out of steam.Drogba was excellently denied by Almunia after being put through by Ballack, but got his just reward and 28th goal of the campaign when Arjen Robben crossed from the left hand side for the talismanic centre forward to nod home with a bullet header past the Arsenal goalkeeper.13 minutes of chaos were to follow the goal, with the inexperienced Arsenal players becoming angry. _42612423_drogba2_getty300.jpgDidier Drogba celebrates scoring his second goal7 minutes of injury time were added, but this could have been made more comfortable by Andrei Shevchenko, but his shot cannoned back off the crossbar. But following the end of the allotted time, a row sparked up between both teams when John Obi Mikel and Kolo Toure were involved in a conflict. The two players were sent off for violent conduct, as well as Arsenal substitute Emmanuel Adebayor, who was sent off for dissent. Yellow cards for Cesc Fabregas and Frank Lampard followed; and the referee blew his whistle on the 103rd minute of regular play to give Chelsea their first silverware of the season, and their fifth in two years. And they are still in the hunt for more._42612527_winners_getty416.jpgCarling Cup Champions 2007The Line-upsChelsea (4-1-2-1-2) Cech; Diarra, Carvalho, Terry © (Mikel 62), Bridge; Makelele; Essien, Lampard; Ballack; Shevchenko (Kalou 90+8), Drogba.Scorers Drogba (20, 83).Sent off Mikel (90+5).Booked Essien (35), Carvalho (48), Diarra (51), Lampard (90+5).Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Almunia; Hoyte, Touré ©, Senderos, Traoré (Eboué 66); Denilson, Fabregas; Walcott, Baptista, Diabi (Hleb 68); Aliadiere (Adebayor 80).Scorers Walcott (11).Sent off Touré (90+5), Adebayor (90+5)Booked Denilson (28), Eboué (87), Fabregas (90+5)The RatingsHow They RatedChelseaPetr Cech - 9 - Inspirational. Many fine saves.Diarra - 7 - Stern. Above average performanceCarvalho - 8 - Prolific. Looked assured.Terry - 7 - Strong. Prolific in defence.Bridge - 6 - Average. Below par.Lampard - 7 - Influential. Key figure in midfield.Essien- 7 - Good. Involved in defensive work.Makelele - 6 - Quiet. Linked well with defence.Ballack - 6 - Shadow. Involved at points.Drogba - 9 - Exemplary. Two excellent finishes.Shevchenko - 7 - Tried. Worked hard.Mikel - 7 - Sent off. Replaced Terry.Kalou - 7 - No time. Replaced Shevchenko.Robben - 8 - Involved. Replaced Makelele.Overall team rating - 8Arsenal rating - 8 - the young Gunners tried their best, but class and form prevailed.Referee - 9 - Howard Webb was excellent today. Unbiased and allowed the game to flow. Three key decisions - one a little harsh in sending Mikel off, but was fair overall.StatsAttendence: 70073Possession: Chelsea 51% - 49% ArsenalShots - On: Chelsea 7 - 10 ArsenalShots - Off: Chelsea 3 - 5 ArsenalCorners: Chelsea 2 - 6 ArsenalFouls: Chelsea 15 - 13 ArsenalMan of the Matchcech_secret.jpgPetr Cech

Pictures used without permission of www.bbc.co.uk Match report written by BlueLion of CFC-Fans.co.uk

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