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May 17, 2010

Chelsea and Barcelona celebrate

Chelsea, for the first time in their history, completed the famous League and FA Cup double when they defeated Portsmouth by a solitary goal at Wembley on Saturday.

The bare facts don’t really give much information, though, about a game that was totally absorbing from beginning to end. The accepted wisdom of the pundits was that the game would be the most one-sided FA Cup Final for years – including cruel predictions that, this year, the FA would break with tradition and present the cup to Chelsea before the 3pm kick off. No-one recognised the power of the Portsmouth woodwork, however, which came to the relegated side’s rescue no fewer than 5 times in the first half. Combined with a performance from goalkeeper David James which must have impressed watching England boss Fabio Capello, and some last ditch defensive blocks from players such as South African World Cup captain Aaron Mokoena, Portsmouth kept their fans optimistic until half time. There was the feeling that, just perhaps, Portsmouth could snatch a goal on the break and Chelsea’s dominance would be unrewarded.

The big chance for Pompey came 9 minutes into the second half when Chelsea substitute Belletti made a rash challenge on Kevin-Prince Boateng and the referee awarded a clear penalty. Boateng’s effort, however, was poorly hit and Cech saved easily. As so often happens after things like this, it was less than 5 minutes later that Didier Drogba scored the winning goal. A stunning free kick, which again managed to hit the post on the way to the net, was Drogba’s 37th goal of the season and his 6th at Wembley. Frank Lampard missed a late penalty for the Blues but, in all honesty, they saw the game out in relative comfort. For Chelsea, then, a double to celebrate in Carlo Ancelotti’s first season in charge. For Portsmouth, a summer of upheaval and financial concern – and the speculation about where the players and manager Avram Grant will be next season has already started.

La Liga

In Spain, the much-awaited final showdown between Barcelona and Real Madrid really didn’t have the drama we might have wanted. Real Madrid, looking very nervous and tentative, conceded an early goal to Málaga’s Duda whilst, at the Nou Camp, Valladolid’s Luis Prieto deflected a shot from Pedro into his own goal. Pedro rounded off a wonderful season by scoring himself before half time, to celebrate his inclusion in the Spanish World Cup Preliminary Squad of 30 players. By the time the interval came in both matches, therefore, the destination of the title was more or less assured.

A second half equaliser by Van der Vaart enabled Madrid to earn a point from their game but Lionel Messi achieved his own ambition by scoring twice in order to join the Brazilian Ronaldo in having scored 34 La Liga goals in a season. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have enjoyed exceptional seasons in La Liga. It now remains to be seen what decisions the Madrid hierarchy make in the coming weeks about who is going to guide the team next season and prevent them from going 3 seasons without winning a trophy. Step forward Señor Mourinho?

Elsewhere, Sevilla assured themselves of the final Champions’ League spot with a thrilling 3 – 2 away win at Almería. Goals by Kanouté, Negredo (who was later sent off for abusing a linesman) and, in the 94th minute, substitute Rodri, saw Sevilla home. Sevilla’s victory means that, whatever happens in the Copa del Rey final next week, Atlético will be in the Europa League again next season and the Madrid side took the opportunity of resting most of their first team players in the home game with Getafe. Getafe’s 3 – 0 success (2 for Soldado and 1 for DanI Parejo) enabled them to clinch their own European place. Villarreal, despite their fine form since January, were unable to make the qualifying positions after a 3 – 3 draw at Zaragoza. Mallorca, who have enjoyed such wonderful home form, finished the season by beating Espanyol 2 – 0, thus ensuring Europa League football next year.

The fight to escape the relegation places mirrored the position at the top of the table in that it all came as an anti-climax with none of the bottom 3 being able to win to give themselves the opportunity of escaping the drop. Tenerife lost by a single goal to a much-weakened Valencia and Xerez could only draw 1 – 1 at Osasuna.

In the other games, Racing beat Sporting 2 – 0 ( Tchité with two goals) and Athletic beat Deportivo 2 – 0, with Javi Martínez also scoring to celebrate his inclusion in the Spanish 30.

The final league table, therefore, sees Barcelona with 99 points followed by Real Madrid 96, Valencia 71, Sevilla 63, Mallorca 62 and Getafe 58. The bottom 3 remain valladolid with 36, Tenerife 36 and Xerez 34.

Posted by admin @ 11:49 am
Category: FA Cup,Spanish League


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