ANFIELD ONLINE MATCH REPORT
LIVERPOOL 2-1 CHELSEA
FA CUP SEMI FINAL
Saturday 22nd April 2006 (17:15) at Old Trafford
Luis Garcia broke Chelsea hearts again in a semi-final - and this time it definitely crossed the line.
The Spaniard scored the goal which knocked Jocresse Mourinho's team out of the Champions League last season and sent Liverpool marching to Istanbul. Mourinho still calls it the 'ghost goal' and insists it did not cross the line.
But this time the Chelsea boss can have no complaints about the way his team were beaten in the FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford.
The Premiership champions may be on the way to defending their title but there will be no league and cup double.
The Blues were badly off colour for an hour of this game. Uncharacteristic mistakes littered their game and Liverpool made them pay.
John Arne Riise gave the Merseysiders a first-half lead with a free-kick which somehow burrowed through Chelsea's defensive wall.
Then Luis Garcia scored a screamer from 20 yards to make it two, early in the second half.
Didier Drogba pulled a goal back with 20 minutes to go, leaping high to beat Jose Reina in the air and punish a terrible headed clearance by Riise.
Drogba had missed two golden chances in the first 20 minutes. He finally managed to find the net and set up a thrilling finish.
But Liverpool had done enough, frequently repelling a number of long balls into the area and Rafael Benitez now goes to his first FA Cup final - against West Ham or Middlesbrough.
Mourinho will prepare to face Manchester United next week and collect the point needed to clinch the title. He will also chew long and hard over the performance of his team at Old Trafford and his own tactical decisions.
Chelsea's surge to the top of English football has been based on their solid, well-organised defence.
But Riise's goal was down to indiscipline by the Blues. First, a free-kick was conceded in dangerous territory, just outside the penalty area.
Then Riise's shot crept between Paulo Ferreira and Frank Lampard in the Chelsea wall. Carlo Cudicini, protecting the other side of the goal, was furious.
Even John Terry was not immune to the sloppiness. He tried to cushion a header back to Cudicini, 10 minutes before the break, but it lacked power and gave Peter Crouch a sniff of a chance.
Crouch and Cudicini collided as they both stretched for the loose ball but the keeper kept it out. Terry recovered to clear.
Luis Garcia should have given the Reds a two-goal advantage in first-half stoppage-time.
Steven Gerrard skipped past Asier del Horno and pulled the ball back but Luis Garcia snatched at the chance and it flew well over. The Spaniard made amends after the break with an exquisite finish.
Once again, the Blues were casual at the back. Ferreira and William Gallas both mistimed headers and the ball spilled behind the back four.
It sat up kindly for Luis Garcia and his unleashed a dipping 20-yard shot which soared over Cudicini and down into the far corner.
Mourinho had opted to start with Cole, Arjen Robben and Damien Duff all on the bench.
Full-back Ferreira was pushed into midfield and the London club started with both Hernan Crespo and Drogba up front.
Robben came on at half-time and was joined by both Cole and Duff when Chelsea went two down.
The Londoners rallied well. Drogba's goal gave them hope and they finished strongly, pushing for the equaliser but Reina made some important stops.
Chelsea will reflect on two chances by Drogba when the game was still goalless.
First Drogba missed the target with a simple header from Lampard's corner, flicked on at the near post by Crespo.
Then he rode his luck when the linesman failed to spot him offside in the 19th minute.
The flag stayed down, although he looked a fraction off, and he was clean through only to fire wide as Reina dashed from his line.
Terry had the ball in the net in the 50th minute. It would have levelled the game at 1-1 but referee Graham Poll ruled it out for a foul by the Chelsea captain on Riise.
Chelsea have still only lost twice to Liverpool in 10 meetings over the last two seasons - but what painful defeats they have been.
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|Match Report filed: 22nd April 2006|