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Southend 1-4 Chelsea


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Southend United 1-4 Chelsea F.C.

January 14 2009, FA Cup, Third Round Replay, Roots Hall, Southend

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Salomon Kalou led the way as Chelsea romped to victory at Roots Hall in their FA Cup replay against Southend.


A last-minute equaliser from Peter Clarke had earned the Shrimpers a deserved draw at Stamford Bridge some ten days previous meant that a Roots Hall replay was required to settle the tie, although Franco di Santo could have won the game in stoppage time - only for Southend goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall to pull off a fantastic reaction save to deny the young Argentinean striker. Salomon Kalou had opened the scoring for the home side with a bullet header from a Frank Lampard corner, and through a combination of excellent goalkeeping from Mildenhall and wasteful shooting by the likes of Joe Cole and Didier Drogba, the tie was destined to end level.

There was some doubt before the match as to whether it would go ahead with a sheet of dense fog covering the Roots Hall pitch in the late afternoon. However, despite initially calling the game off, experienced referee Chris Foy elected to overrule his own decision and allow the game to go ahead. Following their humiliation at the hands of Manchester United at Old Trafford, there was considerable change in the Chelsea ranks. Drogba's pathetic performance cost him a place in the travelling squad, and neither Deco nor Ricardo Carvalho made the starting eleven, although the latter was on the bench. Replacing the three players were Nicolas Anelka, Salomon Kalou and Alex da Costa respectively.

Chelsea's yellow-jerseyed players expressed their desire to make amends for their poor showing at the weekend, and a menacing foray into the opposition penalty area underlined this - however the Ivorian could not pick out one of his teammates. Joe Cole then had a decent effort saved by Mildenhall after combining with Lampard. It was a promising start from the visitors, who had certainly been given a stern talking-to by manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.

However, the Brazilian manager would not have been impressed by a succession of corners won by the Shrimpers in the 14th minute. The first was dealt with by a stretching Petr Cech, who helped the ball on its way out of the box, but a second delivery from the flag saw Southend captain Adam Barrett open the scoring. Following all the talk of Chelsea's recent record of defending set-pieces and their desire to change their fortune in such situations, the opening goal would certainly have angered the Chelsea manager.

Joe Cole had a shot turned off the line on the 16th minute as Chelsea threw everything at the hosts in an attempt to grab an immediate equaliser. Lampard forced a good, instinctive block from Mildenhall at close range before Cole's follow-up was blocked by an excellent challenge. Ballack's follow-up was well over. Ballack again tried his luck, but his effort on the half-hour was deflected wide before a dipping volley from the German captain whistled narrowly over the crossbar. Anelka's attempted curler into the far post after a nice side-step forced another decent save, as Chelsea looked to restore parity before half-time.

However, despite all the Chelsea possession, it was so nearly 2-0 to the home side as Alex Revell forced a truly magnificent save from Petr Cech. Former youth product Anthony Grant beat Ashley Cole before supplying the midfielder with a cross from the right, but his thumping header was blocked superbly by the frame of the Czech international. Chelsea were in the game by the skin of their teeth, and had their goalkeeper to thank - not for the first time in Cech's career between the posts for the Blues, either.

However all their pressure paid off as Michael Ballack scored a sumptuous volley seconds before half-time. Bosingwa launched a teasing cross from deep into the penalty area that dipped in the air, forcing Mildenhall into an uncomfortable punch. The ball fell to Ballack, who, from 13 yards, composed himself and arrowed the ball into the postage stamp. The German's first goal of the season and his 18th Chelsea career strike will certainly be up amongst his most important ones.

John Obi Mikel - who had been booked in the lead-up to Cech's save from Revell - was substituted at half-time. The Nigerian midfielder will be forced to sit out the Blues' fourth-round game against Ipswich at Stamford Bridge later this month. In his place came Juliano Belletti, whose creative influence turned the game on its head. Leading attack after attack whilst maintaining the same defensive discipline that Mikel had offered, the Brazilian's simple-yet-effective passing gave Frank Lampard more license to roam forward and support the so-far quiet Nicolas Anelka.

It was an excellent tactical switch by the manager, as Lampard's supporting runs gave Anelka the required support he craved. The Frenchman, along with winger Joe Cole, gradually become more and more involved in Chelsea attacks, as the Blues looked to take the lead on the night.

Alex proved his weight in gold in both defence and attack in the space of minutes. The former PSV Eindhoven centre-back arrowed a header over from a Lampard corner before expertly shepherding a Southend striker away from goal after he had attempted to round Petr Cech, before sliding in to clear the ball for a corner. French midfielder Christophe might have made Chelsea's poor marking at set-pieces for the second time in the match, but the diminutive figure of the midfielder headed over.

On 59 minutes, a piece of absolute genius from Joe Cole found Salomon Kalou in space. The England midfielder pinged a 40-yard cross-field ball to the feet of the Ivorian, who burst into the box, cutting across his marker before firing low beyond Mildenhall. The pass, the touch and the finish were all sensational, and the young striker wheeled away in delight in front of the travelling fans.

However, the goal was not without cost, as Joe Cole was forced to limp off with little over a quarter of an hour remaining - the Chelsea number 10 appearing to twist his knee after landing awkwardly following an aerial challenge with Grant. Led off the pitch, Cole was fortunately able to walk, but the sign of excruciating pain on the winger's face suggested a lengthy lay-off might be in store. Franco di Santo was introduced in his place.

Nicolas Anelka did well to steal the ball off the toe of a retreating Southend player, before playing the ball to the supporting Frank Lampard, who in turn passed it to Kalou. The Ivorian cleverly slowed down the play by bending his run, before slotting the ball into the path of Anelka's late run, allowing the Frenchman to steer the ball home from 12 yards on his right foot. Southend had been torn apart by a brilliant, flowing Chelsea move that was typical of the Blues in their earlier matches under Scolari, and signs of the same unity as then were demonstrated once more as the Frenchman applauded the Chelsea supporters behind the goal.

Di Santo then turned provider, beginning a move that Lampard finished in stoppage time. The young forward robbed the ball in the midfield before feeding it to Anelka. Lampard received the ball from the brilliant Kalou to finish with aplomb. 4-1 on the night, and Chelsea had been well worth their convincing lead.

It wasn't that hard now, was it?

___________________________________________________________________

Southend: Mildenhall, Sankofa, Barrett, Clarke, Herd, Revell (Betsy), Grant (Francis), Moussa, Christophe, Stanislas, Barnard (Freedman)

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Ashley Cole, Mikel (Belletti 46), Joe Cole (Di Santo 76), Ballack, Lampard, Kalou, Anelka

Attendance: 11,314

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match award goes to...

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Ashley Cole

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