Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba scores against Liverpool in the FA Cup final

Chelsea's FA Cup final talisman Didier Drogba was the match-winner once more as they overcame Liverpool to lift the trophy at Wembley.

Drogba's goal early in the second half - his fourth in this Wembley showpiece - proved decisive as the remarkable turnaround in Chelsea's fortunes under interim manager Roberto di Matteo was rewarded with silverware.

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina was badly at fault as Ramires scored at the near post after 11 minutes and Chelsea looked in cruise control when Drogba continued his love affair with the FA Cup final and Wembley with an angled finish.

The introduction of substitute Andy Carroll sparked Liverpool into life and he pulled a goal back just after the hour - and thought he had equalised as Kenny Dalglish's side laid siege to Chelsea's goal in the closing stages.

He met Luis Suarez's cross at the far post, only for Chelsea keeper Petr Cech to show brilliant reflexes to deflect his header on to the bar. Carroll turned away to lead Liverpool's insistent protests that the ball had crossed the line but referee Phil Dowd and assistant referee Andrew Garratt waved play on, with even a succession of replays proving inconclusive.

Chelsea survived and can now turn their attentions to the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in Germany on 19 May as they face an increasingly arduous task to finish in the Premier League's top four.

As Di Matteo celebrated and captain John Terry raised the trophy for the fourth time, the Italian increased his claims to become the permanent successor to Andre Villas-Boas by landing a trophy.

For Liverpool, their season will now be regarded as a relative disappointment after failure to add the FA Cup to the Carling Cup and not mounting a challenge to reach the Champions League places.

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Liverpool didn't show up - Dalglish

The final started with £85m worth of striking talent on the bench as Carroll was a Liverpool substitute and Chelsea's Fernando Torres missed out on a starting place against his former club.

The Reds were on the back foot early on when a catalogue of defensive errors led to Ramires giving Chelsea the lead. Jay Spearing conceded possession in midfield and Ramires escaped Jose Enrique far too easily before scoring at the near post with a shot Reina should have saved.

Chelsea were coping comfortably as Liverpool left Suarez too isolated. Steven Gerrard was also being forced to drop too deep to offer support to the beleaguered Spearing and Jordan Henderson rather than add attacking potency alongside the Uruguayan.

Liverpool did have one moment of danger in the first half when Chelsea failed to clear Glen Johnson's cross and Branislav Ivanovic blocked Craig Bellamy's goalbound shot.

Chelsea doubled their lead seven minutes after the restart, with the second coming from their most reliable source of Wembley goals. Frank Lampard escaped Spearing with ease and fed Drogba inside the area, who controlled before sending an angled left-foot finish across Reina.

Liverpool introduced Carroll for Spearing and were rewarded after 64 minutes when he put them back in contention. Stewart Downing blocked Jose Bosingwa's attempted clearance, which fell into the path of Carroll. He turned John Terry superbly before firing high past Cech.

At last Liverpool had impetus and were getting the dangerous Suarez into threatening positions, allowing him to force Cech to save low to his right with an effort from the edge of the area.

Carroll thought he had equalised with his header against the bar with eight minutes left. Liverpool claimed the ball had cross the line and Chelsea were grateful for a miraculous intervention from Cech to turn his effort on to the woodwork.

He was then denied by a magnificent tackle from captain Terry as Liverpool continued to press - but Chelsea survived as the memories of the nightmare under Villas-Boas faded even further into the background.

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