Chelsea scored five times at Wembley to defeat Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 and set up a mouth-watering FA Cup final date with Liverpool on May 5.
After 42 goalless minutes, Didier Drogba pulled off a brilliant turn-around move against former Blues defender William Gallas to smash home past Carlo Cudicini in the Spurs goal.
Four minutes after the interval, Juan Mata doubled that advantage but controversy erupted immediately regarding the sequence that led to the Spaniard’s supposed goal.
After Cudicini had cleared Frank Lampard’s corner, John Terry accidentally landed on three Spurs players, including Cudicini, to take the Tottenham defense out of the equation.
Mata then struck the loose ball lowly across the goal and although it was unclear whether the shot even completely crossed the line, the goal should have been waived off for Terry’s foul nonetheless.
Instead, the goal was ultimately awarded to Mata despite angry protests from several Spurs players.
Shortly after the controversy, Gareth Bale became the only Tottenham player who managed to turn that anger into a moment of brief celebration as he slid into an open net after Petr Cech had failed to clear away Emmanuel Adebayor’s run towards the Chelsea goal.
Despite cutting their deficit into half, the Spurs lacked the spirit to complete the fightback and were punished for it late in the match when Ramires, Lampard, and substitute Florent Malouda scored a goal each in the last 13 minutes.
Lampard’s 81st minute free-kick was the perhaps the best goal of the match as he perfectly curved his shot into the right corner of the goal, giving Cudicini no chance to make the save.
The emphatic Blues win ensures yet another dramatic showdown with bitter rivals Liverpool, who defeated Everton 2-1 in the other semifinal yesterday.
Before worrying about that match, though, the Blues will be focusing on Wednesday’s Champions League clash with holders FC Barcelona.
Tottenham, on the other hand, are no longer in contention to end this season with any silverware. In fact, given their patchy form, the Spurs must also worry about losing to Chelsea once again – in the battle for a top four finish.
The Blues are currently only two points adrift of Harry Redknapp’s men, which means that the latter outfit simply has no more room for error.