Everton 1 - Chelsea 2: FA Cup Final Match Report
IT was unlucky 13 for Everton as their dreams of FA Cup glory were dashed when they fell to heartbreaking final defeat against Chelsea at Wembley.
The Londoners came from behind to secure a 2-1 triumph to prevent the Goodison outfit claiming the sixth FA Cup triumph in their history.
Everton, backed by a vociferous travelling support, had received the fillip of the quickest-ever Cup final goal when Louis Saha scored after 25 seconds.
But Didier Drogba equalised on 21 minutes before Frank Lampard netted a fantastic winner 18 minutes from time.
It could have been worse for Everton had Florent Malouda's 25-yard thunderbolt not wrongly been adjudged to have not crossed the line after striking the underside of the crossbar.
But Moyes and his players, having reached the 13th final in the club's history, deserved the warm applause from the Everton fans who stayed behind after the final whistle to salute their heroes.
With pitchside temperatures surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the class of Chelsea ultimately proved too hot to handle for Everton, whose injury problems perhaps caught up with them on the day.
The pre-match pomp and circumstance, while expertly executed, did lead to the unlikely sight of Moyes introducing guest of honour Kofi Annan to Tony Hibbert.
Rumour has it Drogba nearly went down on his turn to shake the hand of the former UN Secretary-General.
As expected, Saha began in attack for Everton with Jack Rodwell dropping to the bench despite an impressive showing at Fulham last week.
And that decision was justified after just 25 seconds when the Frenchman fired Everton into a sensational lead, swivelling to strike a left-footed shot beyond Petr Cech following Marouane Fellaini's header after Jon Obi Mikel failed to properly clear Steven Pienaar's cross.
Pienaar did appear suspiciously offside during the build up to the goal, but that should not detract from what was a fantastic finish from Saha.
It was the quickest FA Cup final goal in recorded history, beating Roberto di Matteo's strike after 43 seconds for Chelsea against Middlesbrough in 1997 and earlier than that of Bob Chatt of Aston Villa, who is estimated to have scored between 30 and 40 seconds against West Bromwich Albion in 1895.
Chelsea were shellshocked. But the Londoners gradually passed their way back into the match and were rewarded with a worryingly straightforward equaliser on 21 minutes.
Malouda, Chelsea's outlet on the left flank, found space and from his cross into the danger zone, Drogba outmuscled Joleon Lescott to head powerfully beyond Tim Howard.
Everton's pressing game appeared compromised by the baking Wembley heat, Moyes compelled to leap from his touchline seat and urge his players forward as they were pushed further and further back.
With Hibbert having picked up an early harsh booking, Chelsea worked on isolating the right-back, but it was a fortunate ricochet off Fellaini that put Ashley Cole clear down the left, Everton grateful the full-back then slashed his angled attempt woefully wide.
Although Chelsea were dominant, they did offer Everton a glimmer of encouragement on half-time when Cech fumbled a routine Leighton Baines cross behind for a corner.
Poor Hibbert, who has often struggled in the heat, was replaced at the break by Lars Jacobsen with Cahill moved up to support Saha as Moyes sought to quell the swelling yellow tide.
It worked, Everton enjoying much better possession although Chelsea remained a threat, Nicolas Anelka lobbing over from Lampard's lofted pass.
After Cahill charged down a John Terry clearance but sent an opportunist first-time shot at Cech, a quickly-taken free-kick gave Leighton Baines the chance to deliver a fine cross that an unmarked Saha headed over from 12 yards.
But Everton fell behind for the first time on 72 minutes when Chelsea's best passing move of the half ended with Lampard unleashing a brilliant left-footed shot that Howard's fingertips could not keep out.
Chelsea then sought to kill off the game. A clearly offside Malouda was wrongly allowed to the chance to shoot wastefully over after being sent clear by Lampard's pass.
Everton, though, were grateful for the flag staying down again moments later when Malouda unleashed a venomous 25-yard shot that beat Howard, struck the crossbar and landed behind the line before bouncing back into the field of play.
Play on, said the officials. But television replays confirmed what the naked eye suspected; it should have been a goal.
Cahill shot wide in the final minute but Everton, whose season has been littered with late goals, couldn't quite conjure an equaliser.
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert (Jacobsen 46), Yobo, Lescott, Baines; Osman (Gosling 83), Neville, Cahill, Pienaar; Fellaini; Saha (Vaughan 77). Subs: Nash, Castillo, Rodwell, Baxter. BOOKINGS: Hibbert, Neville and Baines (all fouls).
CHELSEA (4-2-3-1): Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, Cole; Mikel, Essien (Ballack 61); Anelka, Lampard, Malouda; Drogba. Subs: Hilario, Ivanovic, di Santo, Kalou, Belletti, Mancienne. BOOKING: Mikel (foul) and Lampard (simulation).
REFEREE: Howard Webb.