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Aston Villa-Chelsea; FA Cup Semifinals: Tired Villans Lose to Blues 3-Nil

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Aston Villa-Chelsea; FA Cup Semifinals: Tired Villans Lose to Blues 3-Nil
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Aston Villa were determined to prove the Chelsea captain wrong. John Terry came out before the game saying that the Villans were left fuming over their 7-1 hammering at the hands (or legs) of Chelsea.

That determination was evident in the way Aston Villa played the first half of the FA Cup semifinal in Wembley.

The game started with Aston Villa going into overdrive. Chelsea's lineup, which featured Didier Drogba instead of Nicolas Anelka, had trouble starting the game on the right foot.

And the pitch wasn't helping, either. A slippery pitch led to a lot of misplaced hits and slips from both teams. However, it was Aston Villa who were setting the right note. 

Aston Villa held most of the possession, but were lacking the final ball. It was evident in the number of the times the Villans had come tantalisingly close to Chelsea's box without troubling Chelsea goalie Petr Cech.

The closest and perhaps a controversial moment came when match referee Howard Webb waved aside the Villans' protest when Ablonlahor was bough to the ground by Chelsea's Obi Mikel. It seemed like a sure shot penalty, and the referee was close enough to spot it. 

The first half came to an end with neither team scoring, but Aston Villa being the more dominant team in terms of both possession and attack.

Chelsea, however, improved in the second half. They started dominating the possession, and just when they looked to be even more threatening, Deco was penalized for contact with Aston Villa's Stiliyan Petrov.

Joe Cole had some good chances, but he was unable to capitalize. A cross from Drogba found Cole, who was a little bit late to the ball. A few seconds earlier and Chelsea would have broken the deadlock.  

Cole was substituted, instead of an out-of-form and yellow-carded Deco. Salomon Kalou came on for Cole and made some amazing runs that troubled the Aston Villa defenders.

Chelsea broke the deadlock though the first real mistake made by Aston Villa's Richard Dunne. A corner from Malouda was met by Dunne, who headed the ball to the feet of John Terry.

Terry passed the ball to an unmarked Drogba who, with his back turned to the net, managed to slice the ball to the lower left corner.  

Chelsea 1 - 0 Villa.

 

Carlo Ancelotti then thought it wise to replace the tired and yellow-carded Deco, who was replaced by Michael Ballack. Villa did not make any meaningful substitutions and one could see the tiredness on the face and in the pace of many Aston Villa players.

Perhaps this tiredness paved the way for Chelsea's second goal, as a cross from Ballack from the right wing found Florent Malouda on the left wing, who smacked the ball inside the net. The speed of the cross and the attack caught Brad Friedel by surprise.

Chelsea 2 - 0 Villa.

 

The cameras panned the stadium as an attendance of 85,000-plus started declining after Chelsea's second goal. Malouda then squandered another brilliant chance to score as a shot from Kalou was blocked by Freidel and it fell straight to Malouda.

Villa had little in counter attack, as only Ashley Young and Gabriel Ablonglahor seemed unaffected by the fatigue. 

The final goal came in injury time with a quick Chelsea counter attack. Chelsea got the ball from a Villa corner and blasted away. Malouda passed the ball to Anelka (who replaced Drogba in the 80th minute) who passed it to an unmarked Frank Lampard. The defense came too late, as Lampard had enough time to fire the ball past Friedel.

Chelsea 3 - 0 Villa.

 

Chelsea progress through to the next round of FA Cup. Aston Villa had little to complain about except for the one penalty and the pitch, but the fact remains that Aston Villa need to strengthen more if they are to challenge the big teams at a more consistent level.

As for Chelsea, the Cup holders overcame a slow start and got back in their groove. Ancelotti seems comfortable with his game planning, team selection, and substitutions. Chelsea will now be the clear favourites to win the FA Cup, but that will not be known until May.

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