Drogba ruins Pompey’s last hurrah

The irony must not be lost on Avram Grant that missed penalties once again proved crucial in his fortunes in a major cup final.

The Portsmouth manager was in charge of Chelsea two years ago when John Terry’s slip and penalty miss in the Moscow rain cost the Londoners the Champions League.

Now, with Chelsea the opposition, he had a new nightmare from 18 yards as Kevin Prince Boeteng’s sloppy spot-kick was easily saved by Petr Cech, becoming only the third ever keeper to save a penalty in a FA Cup final after  Dave Beasant in 1988 and Mark Crossley in 1991.

That miss was compounded just five minutes later when Didier Drogba slammed home a 25 yard free kick to put the Blues in front. It proved the turning point in the match as Chelsea doggedly kept Pompey at bay and could have extended their lead had Lampard not missed the target from the penalty spot late on – those who have placed an England World Cup bet will be hoping he puts some practice in before heading to South Africa.

Speaking after the match, Grant said his side deserved more from the game and although he can point to the penalty miss as evidence to back this up, it would be tough to argue that Chelsea did not deserve their win. They hit the bar five times in all, one of which came from the boot of Solomon Kalou, who was unmarked in front of an open goal six yard out yet still managed to miss.

Pompey huffed and puffed but failed to match their effort with the required amount of quality to really trouble the newly crowned Premier League champions.

It could prove an end of an era for the south coast club as they depart the Premier League after six largely successful years. Their huge debts mean much of the current squad, as well as the manager, will depart in the summer, so it will be a vastly different side that takes on the challenge of the Championship next season, the betting odds suggest they will struggle to make an impact.

Chelsea meanwhile will hope this is the start of a glorious new era. With promises of funds from Roman Abramovich to freshen up an aging, if talented squad, their rapidly bulging trophy cabinet could grow still further in the coming years.

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