From The Star

Monday 15 April 2002

From The Star

Chelsea maintained west London superiority over Fulham by booking their place in the FA Cup Final thanks to a 1-0 semi-final win at Villa Park.

John Terry was the unlikely goalscorer as he prodded Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's 40th minute corner home, to set up a mouth-watering Final with Arsenal next month.
Terry, complete with Terry Butcher-esque head bandage, gave a heroic all-round display, and it is no wonder the lad is such a favourite on Stamford Bridge.

Fulham will feel hard done by, though manager Jean Tigana can take heart from a battling display. If the Cottagers can give this level of work-rate from now until the end of the season, then their Premiership status will surely be maintained.

The game had got off to a dreadful start for Chelsea as Graeme Le Saux, one of their most influential players, was forced off after just four minutes.

It was a worrying sight for Blues fans, as the diminutive wide-man, once again overlooked by Sven-Goran Eriksson, was stretchered off for Albert Ferrer.

But Chelsea carried on regardless, as they made the more commanding start. Terry forced a fine save from Edwin Van Der Sar on 13 minutes, after swivelling from the left edge of the box to drill a half-volley towards the top right-hand corner of goal.

It's clear why Chelsea fans have taken the centre-back to their hearts; five minutes later he was sprinting back to make up 10-yards on Sean Davis, before sliding in to make the tackle.
Fulham had been quiet, but as they finally burst into life, so did the Cup tie. Sylvain Legwinski's marauding run surprised everyone as the Frenchman powered forward, played a one-two with Steve Marlet on the edge of the box, before forcing a fine one-handed save from Carlo Cudicini.

Chelsea countered, and were unlucky not to take the lead through Mario Stanic on 37 minutes. The midfielder waltzed his way into the Fulham box before Van Der Sar blocked his low close-range effort.

Stanic may have regretted not passing square, but the ensuing corner saved the Croat from a half-time grilling, as Terry opened the scoring. The classy centre-back was on hand to prod Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's set-piece home to silence the Fulham fans, as Chelsea were allowed to take the interval a goal to the good.

The mild-mannered Jean Tigana must have said a few words at half-time, as Fulham came out the more fired up. Saha's menacing run almost caused Desailly to turn the ball past his own keeper, but Cudicini tipped the ball wide.

The Cottagers went close from the subsequent corner, as Steed Malbranque chose to shoot from 15-yards, though one or two of his team-mates made it known he had better options.

The game was turning into a textbook Cup-tie; both sides frantically and relentlessly went from end to end, as the wet surface allowed for some quick, slick passing.

Manu Petit looked for all the world to have doubled Chelsea's lead on 64 minutes after Gudjohnsen's neat lay-off, but the French international steered wide. Gudjohnsen was next to go close, as his stunning lob floated over Van Der Sar before bouncing back of the left stick.

Gudjohnsen had two chances to wrap proceedings up as full-time beckoned, but the Icelander missed the target after great work from Jesper Gronkjaer.

Chelsea managed to hold on, and now Arsenal stand in the way of Ranieri's dream of winning silverware in England.