Drogba: 'We've taken first step'
Didier Drogba hailed Chelsea's FA Cup victory over Liverpool as "the first step" as they completed the first half of their final double.
In two weeks' time the Blues will take on Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, but today the attention was on Wembley and Chelsea took control with goals from Ramires and Drogba.
The Ivorian became the first player to score in four FA Cup finals, and he maintained his record of having won every one, although Andy Carroll ensured a tense finish.
After the 2-1 victory, Drogba told ITV: "Liverpool are a difficult team to play. Today we achieved a great result because, after losing the game against Newcastle, it was very difficult for us. I'm glad we won today. It's the first step."
The main talking point of the game came late on when Carroll powered in a header from a Luis Suarez cross that the Liverpool players thought had crossed the line before Petr Cech clawed it out.
But the goal was not given, and Cech was adamant that was the right decision.
He told ITV: "I don't think it was over the line. If the ball was behind the line I couldn't have kept it out. I'm 100% sure it was not in, and I felt that from the first moment."
Unsurprisingly, Carroll argued the opposite view, and said his own fine performance was of little consolation.
The much-maligned striker said: "I thought it was over the line. I thought it hit the other side of the bar. We were unlucky. We had a few chances but we couldn't put them away. It wasn't to be."
Chelsea captain John Terry felt the victory was a perfect response to the Blues' critics at the end of a season of highs and lows.
The defender told ITV: "This is what we live for. It was a great performance. At times people have slated us, saying we're too old, past it, not together. But when the chips are down we come together and we've done that superbly."
It was also another big feather in the cap of interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, who has turned the club's season around since taking over from Andre Villas-Boas in March.
Regarding the Italian's hopes of landing the job on a permanent basis, Terry added: "We've done Robbie the world of good, we've put in a fantastic performance for him and it can't do him any harm."
Di Matteo put the focus on his team's performance and echoed Terry's comments. "I'm very happy for the players," he told ITV.
"We've been heavily criticised this season and we've got a trophy and we've got the chance for another.
"This group of players have made the club proud. It's been hard work, but we came through it."
Di Matteo has a close relationship with the FA Cup having twice scored goals in finals for Chelsea, beating Middlesbrough in 1997 and Aston Villa in 2000.
He added: "It's quite a unique situation to be able to win as a player and then as a coach. I feel honoured to have had this chance.
"I think we played well today. We scored very good goals. They pressed us hard in the second half but we defended well."
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish admitted his side had paid for their slow start as the Carling Cup winners were forced to settle for runners-up medals this time.
He said: "They were better than us for the first hour. We finished really strong and if we'd started the way we'd finished we'd maybe have been happier than we are now. We've just got to learn the lessons."
Dalglish insisted the officials should get all the credit if they called the toughest decision of a dramatic FA Cup final correctly.
Carroll claimed he had scored an equaliser with a close-range header which Chelsea goalkeeper Cech pushed onto the crossbar. With Liverpool's players believing they were back in the game referee Phil Dowd consulted his assistant Andrew Garratt, who ruled it was no goal.
Television replays were not conclusive as to whether the ball had crossed the line, although computer graphics suggested later it might have done.
Dalglish, however, said: "I've not seen it on television but somebody said sometimes you get it and sometimes you don't. This time we didn't get it. If the officials have got it right I hope they get the credit they deserve for it.
"It is credit to the lads that they went close to getting an equaliser after big Andy scored, but we left ourselves too much to do and I don't think the first hour was a true reflection of the quality of the players.
"They were excellent for the last half hour but the game lasts for 90 minutes and with a team the quality of Chelsea you can't give them two goals start and expect to give yourself an opportunity to get something from the game."
Chelsea manager Di Matteo admitted he did not know whether Carroll's header had crossed the line but he preferred to salute the performance of Cech.
Di Matteo said: "From where I was standing I couldn't see. I looked at the linesman and the linesman didn't flag for the goal so I was quite happy for that.
"We have got a great 'keeper and he made a fantastic save today."
Di Matteo said of Drogba's contribution: "He's not 65. He's a top professional."
Inevitably, discussion then turned to Di Matteo himself.
A stop-gap when he was asked to step in following Andre Villas-Boas' exit on March 4, the Italian has performed an incredible restoration job.
He is now odds-on favourite to be handed the reigns on a permanent basis and it is hard to see how owner Roman Abramovich could justify dispensing with his services if Chelsea are triumphant against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on May 19.
Yet Di Matteo has not spoken to Abramovich about his specific situation, and insists he is happy to let "the boss" come to the correct conclusion.
"It's irrelevant," the Italian said. "The boss will make the decision and we'll respect it. The players will be fine.
"I am very fortunate person, so it's not an issue for me.
"I'll speak to him, don't worry. I speak to him in general."
Drogba became the first man to score in four FA Cup finals and declared: "That's the reason why I came here."
Drogba extended his record of scoring in every cup tie he has played at the new Wembley by netting there for the eighth time in the Blues' 2-1 win over Liverpool.
It could be the striker's last appearance at the home of football, with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.
"That's the reason why I came here, to win trophies and to make history with the club," said Drogba, who joined Chelsea in 2004.
"It's a great feeling, it's a great feeling.
"I'm always surprised to score here.
"As I always said, my last goal is the most beautiful one and this one is the most beautiful because the feeling is... I don't know how to explain.
"I just appreciate the cup and cheering with the fans."
He added of his record haul: "I'm very proud. I'm very proud of it, but I have to give credit to all my team-mates.
"During the last six years, I've been playing here all the finals, I'm really happy and I really want to thank them because they always put me in the best conditions to score goals.
"We made history, not only me.
"The result is great for us, for the fans, for the club.
"Our fourth FA Cup final, fourth win, fourth trophy