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FA Cup - Coventry Away 7th March 2009 2-0


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Blues Cruise Into FA Cup Semi Finals

Coventry 0-2 Chelsea

By Alan McGuinness

The memory of 1987, when Coventry beat Tottenham 3-2 to lift the FA Cup, was conjured up by Coventry manager Chris Coleman in the run up to this quarter final clash to spur his side on to create a cup upset of similar proportions. Indeed today's game had a lot of history surrounding it. It is a year ago this weekend that Chelsea were knocked out of the FA Cup to Championship side Barnsley.

Coleman's side were high on fight and determination, but lacked a crucial cutting edge. Guus Hiddink's Chelsea ruthlessly exposed this, booking a semi final thanks to goals from Didier Drogba and Alex.

Drogba put in another superb performance and almost scored within minutes of kick off. The Ivorian latched on to Petr Cech's long punt up field and shrugged of the attentions of Ben Turner, but placed his shot wide.

However he didn't have to wait long to get his name on the score sheet, and it owed much to some very poor defending from the Sky Blues. Scott Dann failed to clear from a Ben Turner header and Drogba rounded Keiren Westwood before dispatching the ball high into the net.

This was his third goal in four games. He more than most appears to benefiting from the regime change brought about by the sacking of Luiz Felipe Scolari last month.

After appearing overawed for the first quarter of an hour, the home side began to improve.

Freddie Eastwood - famous for scoring the goal that knocked Manchester United out of the Carling Cup three years ago - had a shot blocked by Blues' captain John Terry and Leon Best fired over after managing to wriggle past Alex.

Michael Ballack saw an effort blocked on 30 minutes. Five minutes later Westwood was forced to tip over a swerving Frank Lampard free kick.

Salomon Kalou and Drogba both fired wide before half time. Coventry trudged into the tunnel knowing that they were still in the game thanks to some wasteful finishing from Chelsea.

Hiddink sent on Ricardo Quaresma for the second half for Salomon Kalou, and the Portuguese winger demonstrated his crossing ability immediately, playing in a ball that Drogba couldn't quite manage to get to.

Hiddink's second change led to raucous cheers from the 5,000 or so Chelsea fans who had made the trip up to the Ricoh Arena. Michael Essen - out of action since September - came on to replace John Obi Mikel.

The long throws of Aron Gunnarrson were proving to be Coventry's best method of testing Chelsea. Cech flapped at one of the Icelandic midfielder's deliveries after 67 minutes. Four minutes later another throw was pumped into the Chelsea box whilst Alex and Drogba were off receiving treatment for a clash of heads.

Both returned to the fray and joined a Chelsea charge down the other end. Quaresma's perfectly weighted cross into the box found Alex who tidily sidefooted home to seal Chelsea's place at Wembley.

Florent Malouda set up Lampard moments later for a chance to make it 3-0, but the England midfielder couldn't find a way past Westwood.

Coventry couldn't be questioned for a lack of effort, and the sell out crowd will take plenty of heart from this performance. Best and Eastwood worked hard up front all afternoon but Chelsea's quality shone through in the end.

Wembley - and a third FA Cup semi final in four years - awaits for the so far unbeaten Guus Hiddink.

Edited by Alan
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