Drogba on target to haunt Gunners again

LONDON - Chelsea's Didier Drogba was a thorn in Arsenal's side again on Saturday when he struck late to clinch a 2-1 victory in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

The Ivory Coast striker pounced on Frank Lampard's lofted pass with six minutes remaining to give Chelsea their first FA Cup success over Arsenal since 1947.

They will face the winners of Sunday's semi-final between Manchester United and Everton, which is also at Wembley.

NEWS: Hiddink hopes for perfect Chelsea finale PHOTOS: Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea Drogba has now scored eight goals against Arsenal since joining Chelsea from Olympique Marseille, including a late winner in the League Cup final in 2007.

Neither side were at their best following midweek triumphs in the Champions League and Chelsea had to dig deep after Theo Walcott volleyed Arsenal ahead in the 18th minute.

Chelsea's equaliser came from the unlikely source of winger Florent Malouda before the break.

Arsenal had the better second-half chances before some hesitation by second-choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski let in Drogba who slotted home from a tight angle.

Interim manager Guus Hiddink can now sign off his short reign at Chelsea with an FA Cup final showdown on May 30.

"This is a huge step to be in the FA Cup final because it's so respected worldwide," said Hiddink.

The Dutchman's only other appearance at the new Wembley ended in defeat when his Russia side lost 3-0 to England in a Euro 2008 qualifier. "I think we deserved it today. We adapted well after they scored and we started to control and dominate. The sloppy start was down to a tactical reason," said Hiddink.

"I'm very proud of these players, they always deliver, they always react to a setback."

Hiddink's Chelsea side appeared to be suffering from the physical effects of their epic 4-4 draw with Liverpool on Tuesday as Arsenal began brightly on Wembley's lush turf.

Apart from one moment early on when Drogba's header was cleared off the line by Arsenal right back Kieran Gibbs, it was the north London side who looked brighter.


The first move of real quality put Arsenal in front. Gibbs, deputising at left back for the injured Gael Clichy, combined well with Emmanuel Adebayor and his cut back was met on the volley by Arsenal's other young Englishman Walcott.

His strike was not convincing but a brush off the hand of Chelsea defender Ashley Cole meant it bounced awkwardly and evaded the diving Petr Cech.

Chelsea were level after 33 minutes with the hard-working Lampard, their best player, delivering an inch-perfect diagonal pass to the foot of Malouda.

The big-money signing from Olympique Lyon beat Emmanuel Eboue with embarrassing ease and sent a low shot skidding inside Fabianski's right-hand post.

The goal fired up Chelsea and they dominated until the break with Nicolas Anelka launching one effort against the post.

Arsenal recovered their poise after halftime, with Adebayor having a couple of half chances and Robin Van Persie and Abou Diaby agonisingly close to converting Walcott crosses.

The match was drifting towards extra time when Lampard volleyed a high ball over the top and Fabianski opted to sprint out of his area to try and deal with the danger.

He was always struggling to reach it before Drogba, who nudged the ball around the stranded Pole before sliding it home in front of Chelsea's delirious fans. ARSENAL FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas Q&A Theo Walcott, Cesc Fabregas One on One Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry, Ian Wright Boy's A Bit Special Theo Walcott, Armand Traore Perfect XI Ian Wright What Happened Next? Gus Caesar, Peter Marinello And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan

Plus! Rate Arsenal players (and others) on Talentspotter CHELSEA FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Kerry Dixon, Guus Hiddink One on One Gianfranco Zola, Nicolas Anelka Boy's A Bit Special  Michael Mancienne, Scott Sinclair Perfect XI Ruud Gullit, Marcel Desailly Celebrity fans Vidal Sassoon And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan

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