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Drogba wins the FA Cup for Chelsea

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LONDON, England -- Didier Drogba scored four minutes from the end of extra time to give Chelsea a 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley stadium.

Drogba played a superb one-two with Frank Lampard before prodding the ball past Edwin van de Sar to enable Chelsea to gain some compensation for surrendering their Premier League title to United.

The goal made Chelsea the first team since Liverpool in 2001 to win both FA Cup and League Cup in the same season and denied Premier League champion Manchester United a record fourth league and cup double.

Chelsea were the last team to win the FA Cup at Wembley before it was demolished -- beating Aston Villa in the 2000 final.

Each team had brought on an extra striker in extra time in an effort to avoid the anxiety of a penalty shootout.

United captain Ryan Giggs thought he had scored in the 103rd minute when he slid in to connect with a cross by Wayne Rooney. Goalkeeper Petr Cech got behind the ball but Giggs' momentum carried both the ball and Cech over the line. Referee Steve Bennett awarded neither a goal nor a foul.

United had enjoyed the greater possession throughout and looked the most likely side to win. However, in the 116th minute Kalou passed to Drogba about 25 meters from goal.

Drogba passed to Lampard on the right corner of the area, received a pass back immediately, and just got to the ball before Van der Sar to score.

The crowd of 89,826 -- the largest at an FA Cup final for 19 years -- watched the teams continue to compete fiercely without producing their best soccer.

Each team had chances to win before the match became the third straight final to go to extra time, but players -- including Drogba and Rooney -- either missed the target or were thwarted by the opposition goalkeeper.

United had the greater possession in an aggressive first half but it was Drogba who managed to head wide and then shoot over.

Running from the edge of the center circle and shooting wide with the toe of his boot, Drogba went close with a technique similar to that used by Roberto Di Matteo in scoring for the Blues in the 1997 cup final win against Middlesbrough.

Frank Lampard had a shot saved by Van der Sar, while United's veteran midfielder Paul Scholes volleyed wide and Rooney missed the target with only Cech to beat.

United pressured the Chelsea defense, which featured an out-of-position Michael Essien, with Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Giggs continually switching positions in attack.

Subdued

However, Ronaldo, England's player of the year, had a subdued match. Chelsea deployed Shaun Wright-Phillips on the right of its midfield to shadow the Portugal winger and he used his pace to drop back and stop crosses coming in.

In the second half, Giggs, United captain in the absence of the injured Gary Neville, spent more time on the left wing, from where he has exploited opposition defenses for more than 15 years.

Giggs seemed to threaten Chelsea's defense whenever he picked up the ball in that position and almost scored what would have been the classic FA Cup goal 11 minutes into the second half.

An attack by United had broken down after Rooney had carried the ball the length of the field and Scholes found himself with the ball midway inside the opposition half. He sent in a lofted 30-meter (yard) pass to the left of the area where Giggs was waiting and the Wales winger hit a fierce volley just over the bar.

Rooney was similarly dangerous, running at defenders and muscling them aside almost at will. He had a shot saved by Cech in the first minute of the second period and the goalkeeper saved at his feet after another powerful run later on.

Giggs broke again in the 70th, beating Chelsea's wavering offside trap, and only a last-second tackle by Essien denied him a shot on goal.

Alan Smith replaced midfielder Darren Fletcher for United in extra time and joined Rooney up front, while Salomon Kalou came on for Wright-Phillips to play alongside Drogba.

Scholes set up another chance for Rooney with 10 minutes left, sending a 70-meter (yard) pass straight to the England striker's feet inside the area. However, the ball hit Rooney's knee and Cech was again able to save at his feet.

Kalou then shot wide from the edge of the area with Van der Sar beaten before setting up Drogba for the winner.

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho said: "It means a lot. The FA Cup, it's the first time for me. We have won every title in English football in my three years in the club and it's something that the players deserve so much because of the season they've had and the way they've fought.

"This is a moment for everybody to enjoy. I think we deserve to go to the holiday period with this cup and this medal."


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Drogba's winner followed a neat one-two with Frank Lampard.

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