Defending champion Chelsea returned to the FA Cup final on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa which left Villa manager Martin O’Neill furious with referee Howard Webb.
Didier Drogba turned home a ball from John Terry in the 68th minute at Wembley and Florent Malouda side-footed home a right-wing cross from Michael Ballack in the 89th. Frank Lampard stroked home the third in injury time after a Chelsea breakaway.
In the May 15 final, Chelsea will face the winner of Sunday’s semifinal between Tottenham and Portsmouth.
The final score was hard on Villa, which controlled much of the game but caved in during the final stages.
Although Chelsea beat Villa 7-1 in a Premier League meeting two weeks ago, Carlo Ancelotti’s team failed to recapture that form. Currently leading the Premier League, however, Chelsea was still on course to complete the league and cup double.
Ancelotti said he was not yet thinking about a dual success.
“We are happy to be in the final of the FA Cup,” said the Italian, in his first season in English football. “We have five games in the Premier League. We have to look at it game by game and prepare well. We have to pay attention to every game. I don’t like to speak of ‘ifs.’ If is not really true.
“We are very close to winning but we haven’t won anything yet.”
A minute after James Milner’s low shot from just outside the area flashed past the Chelsea post, Villa should have had a penalty in the 16th.
John Obi Mikel challenged Gabriel Agbonlahor who went down as he spun towards goal but referee Webb waved away Villa’s penalty appeals, causing O’Neill to rage at the officials.
The Villa manager believed his team should have a penalty and that Chelsea captain Terry should have been sent off for a foul on James Milner.
“I thought we fought very strongly and I’m incredibly disappointed for the players,” said O’Neill, who criticized Webb for two major mistakes.
“We should have had a penalty.. The referee was a few yards from it but chose to ignore it.
“John Terry’s horrendous challenge James Milner was a straight red. The referee’s straight in front of him and he’s given him a yellow card. These are incontestable decisions.”
The notorious Wembley pitch, which has been re-laid several times since the stadium was rebuilt, caused frequent problems with players slipping and forced to change their boots.