Chelsea 4 Cardiff City 1: match report

13 February 2010 02:25
If proof were needed of the gulf in circumstances between these two sides, you only had to look at the banners and the fans in the stands during this FA Cup fifth-round clash.

While the noisy Cardiff City contingent that occupied the Shed End draped a flag proclaiming "Pontycymer Bluebirds", the silent suits in the million-pound boxes adjoining Roman Abramovich's had their own emblem - "Bermuda Blues".

 Related ArticlesPremier League tablePremier League fixturesBut the 'Haves' did not have it all their own way against the 'Have-Nots', whatever the scoreline might suggest. Although it looked ultimately like a comfortable victory for Chelsea against a club who were almost bankrupted last week, Cardiff showed no paucity of grit or effort and for the best part of an hour threatened to upset the cup-holders.

Runners-up two years ago, almost wound up a week ago, Cardiff were up against it from the start, with key players out injured or playing with pain-killing injections. And when they fell a goal behind in the second minute, it looked like humiliation might ensue. But it did not, as Cardiff equalised through Michael Chopra and were unlucky not to go in ahead at half-time, which spoke volumes about the spirit in the side.

But it would be folly to think that Dave Jones' men have nothing but determination in their locker. The played some neat football and the deliveries brought about by the sweet left foot of Peter Whittingham ensured that Chelsea's back line, missing John Terry and Ashley Cole, were unsettled more than once as they attempted to extend a seven-year unbeaten run at home in this competition.

Michael Ballack's goal soon after half-time put Chelsea back in front, but it was not until the final quarter of the game that they eventually looked comfortable, with Daniel Sturridge scoring his fourth goal in the competition this season and Saloman Kalou adding a late fourth.

"Cardiff worked their socks off and made it hard for us," said Ray Wilkins, Carlo Ancelotti's assistant. "For an hour they gave us a tough old game, but we upped the tempo after and came through. But Dave's a good guy and you could see his players were playing for him."

Jones was not too downhearted. "It was a great achievement from my lads, who were absolutely magnificent. It was hard on them because the scoreline looks like a drubbing, but for over an hour we gave a good account of ourselves.

"In the end it was that little bit of quality - well, quite a lot of quality - from Chelsea that made the difference. Hopefully we will learn from it. You certainly don't come to a place like this, play like that and be downhearted."

Yet it would have been surprising if Cardiff had accepted their fate and caved in once Drogba scored his 23rd goal of the season, running on to John Obi Mikel's through pass in the second minute and slotting the ball past goalkeeper David Marshall.

But Cardff took the game to Chelsea. Defender Anthony Gerrard had a powerful header tipped away spectacularly by Hilario, replacing Petr Cech in goal, and from the resulting corner, Chopra should have done better than to put his header over the bar from close range.

Whittingham had a long shot deflected away before Chopra equalised for Cardiff, getting a diving header at the near post to convert Chris Burke's cross from the left in the 33rd minute.

At this stage, Chelsea were stuggling to find the target, with Ballack, Frank Lampard and Sturridge all shooting wide.

But five minutes into the second half, Drogba sent Ballack clear of the offside trap and the German placed the ball calmly past Marshall.

Still Cardiff refused to lie down, although they were pegged back in their own half and relying on quick breaks with balls to Chopra and Jay Bothroyd, who was clearly less than fully fit.

Sturridge finally added a third in the 69th minute after exchanging passes with Drogba and slipping the ball between Marshall's legs from close range.

And when Kalou headed high into the far corner from Paulo Ferreira's cross five minutes from the end it was all over. Cardiff were beaten - but not down.

Source: Telegraph