DI MATTEO: WE ANSWERED OUR CRITICS

Post-match reaction to Chelsea's 2-1 FA Cup final victory over Liverpool.

Last Updated: 06/05/12 at 19:39 Post Comment

The Blues celebrate their cup win at Wembley.

The Blues celebrate their cup win at Wembley.

Roberto di Matteo claimed his Chelsea old guard delivered the perfect response to their critics with their 2-1 FA Cup final triumph over Liverpool - but flat-batted speculation over his own future on yet another day of triumph for the Blues at Wembley.

Goals from Ramires and Didier Drogba proved enough to repel Liverpool's late rally, with Petr Cech making an incredible save to deny substitute Andy Carroll, who had already pulled the Merseyside outfit back into the game.

Inspired defensive performances from John Terry and Ashley Cole also helped Chelsea on their way to a fourth FA Cup success in six years, in a season that could yet end in Champions League glory as well.

It represents an incredible turnaround from their mid-season slumbers, which resulted in the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas.

But interim manger Di Matteo never did feel his club's stalwarts were past it.

"We've had a difficult season and a lot of criticism," he said.

"But the players responded today to all the adversity we've faced.

"The answer was today on the pitch. The football is always the best way to deliver the answer."

Drogba became the first player to score in four finals, Terry became the first captain in the modern era to lift the trophy on four occasions, while Cole was collecting an incredible seventh winners' medal.

"He's not 65. He's a top professional," Di Matteo said of Drogba's contribution.

Inevitably, discussion then turned to Di Matteo himself.

A stop-gap when he was asked to step in following Villas-Boas' exit on March 4, the Italian has performed an incredible restoration job.

He is now odds-on favourite to be handed the reigns on a permanent basis and it is hard to see how owner Roman Abramovich could justify dispensing with his services if Chelsea are triumphant against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on May 19.

Yet Di Matteo has not spoken to Abramovich about his specific situation, and insists he is happy to let "the boss" come to the correct conclusion.

"It's irrelevant," the Italian said. "The boss will make the decision and we'll respect it. The players will be fine.

"I am very fortunate person, so it's not an issue for me.

"I'll speak to him, don't worry. I speak to him in general."

Di Matteo must now get his side prepared for a re-match with Liverpool, in the league at Anfield on Tuesday.

By then Chelsea's hopes of securing a top-four finish may have been ended completely, with both Newcastle and Tottenham a victory away from taking the matter out of their control.

Champions League aspirations have long since disappeared for Carling Cup winners Liverpool, who now know they face an early-August start to the season as England's lowest-ranked Europa League qualifiers.

And manager Kenny Dalglish was left to lament his side's inability to make an impact until Carroll was introduced just before the hour mark.

"We were excellent for the last half hour, but the game lasts for 90 minutes," said the Scot.

"You can't give a team like Chelsea a two-goal head start.

"It's credit to our lads that they went close to an equaliser after Andy scored, but they had left themselves too much to do.

"I don't think the first hour was a reflection of the quality of the players we had out there but I don't know if that's was down to inexperience."

Nevertheless, in accepting Liverpool have endured a woeful league campaign, Dalglish does think some valuable lessons have been learned after appearances in both domestic cup finals.

"Whether there were [any new players joining the club] wasn't going to be dictated by today's result," he said.

"These players will get better and benefit from this experience - they've been in two cup finals in this season.

"They'll have enjoyed the first one more than the second but they'll know what it takes to get some enjoyment."

Chelsea star Didier Drogba became the first man to score in four FA Cup finals and declared: "That's the reason why I came here."

Drogba extended his record of scoring in every cup tie he has played at the new Wembley by netting there for the eighth time in the Blues' 2-1 win over Liverpool.

It could be the striker's last appearance at the home of football, with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.

"That's the reason why I came here, to win trophies and to make history with the club," said Drogba, who joined Chelsea in 2004.

"It's a great feeling, it's a great feeling.

"I'm always surprised to score here.

"As I always said, my last goal is the most beautiful one and this one is the most beautiful because the feeling is... I don't know how to explain.

"I just appreciate the cup and cheering with the fans."

He added of his record haul: "I'm very proud. I'm very proud of it, but I have to give credit to all my team-mates.

"During the last six years, I've been playing here all the finals, I'm really happy and I really want to thank them because they always put me in the best conditions to score goals.

"We made history, not only me.

"The result is great for us, for the fans, for the club.

"Our fourth FA Cup final, fourth win, fourth trophy, so I'm happy.

"That's why we play football, to play finals."

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger admitted they were not good enough for the first hour of their FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea at Wembley.

"We can't use that (fightback) for much. It simply was not good enough for the first hour and we can only blame ourselves," said the Denmark defender.

"We definitely were not good enough.

"Andy did really well when he came on and got a lot of balls to work with but sadly it was not enough."

Debate continued long after the final whistle over whether Carroll's header had actually crossed the line but Agger said he had no idea from his position on the pitch.

"I definitely couldn't see anything because I was at the other end so people watching television will have to decide that."

Midfielder Jordan Henderson admitted he went up claiming the equalising goal more in hope than expectation.

"I appealed because that is what you have got to do," said the England Under-21 midfielder, who was at a loss to explain Liverpool's sluggish start.

"I am not sure why we started quite slowly in the first half. In the second half we came out and played some good stuff and we should have got back into the game.

"I think we will be disappointed when we look back.

"We wanted to win this game and we didn't and we are very disappointed."

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

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ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

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