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Wednesday, February 18, 1998 Published at 23:23 GMT



Sport: Football

It's Chelsea v Middlesbrough at Wembley again!
image: [ Chelsea's Dennis Wise falls to the ground as Arsenal's Emmanuel Petit takes on the ball ]
Chelsea's Dennis Wise falls to the ground as Arsenal's Emmanuel Petit takes on the ball

Chelsea and Middlesbrough will return to Wembley next month - in a re-run of last year's FA Cup Final - after winning their respective Coca Cola Cup semi-finals.

Bryan Robson's Middlesbrough pulled off a shock 2-0 win over Liverpool - winning 3-2 on aggregate - after grabbing two goals in the first four minutes of the second leg at the Riverside Stadium.


Ian Brown reports from the Riverside Stadium on Middlesbrough's victory over Liverpool (0' 50")
Robson will have the chance to avenge the 2-0 defeat by Chelsea after he booked Boro's third cup final appearance in a year.

Liverpool, 2-1 up from the first leg at Anfield, never recovered from two knockout punches delivered by Paul Merson and Italian debutant Marco Branca in the first four minutes.

Mikkel Beck, playing in place of the cup-tied £1.6m signing Alun Armstrong, was brought down after 83 seconds by Jamie Carragher and Paul Merson dispatched the penalty with aplomb.

A minute or so later Branca, who signed only 24 hours earlier, took a great ball from Merson, and outpaced the Liverpool defence before slotting the ball through the legs of the hapless David James from 10 yards.

Boro dominated the first half and could have had more goals. After the interval Liverpool came back into the match and Robbie Fowler missed the best of their chances but overall the Teessiders deserved their Wembley place.


Simon Brotherton reports from Stamford Bridge on Chelsea's victory over Arsenal (0' 51")
Chelsea's new player-manager Gianluca Vialli savoured the sweet taste of victory in his first match with the Blues beating Arsenal 3-1 to win their semi-final 4-3 on aggregate.


[ image: Vialli celebrates with his backroom team]
Vialli celebrates with his backroom team
Not only was it Chelsea's first win under Vialli but it was also the first time in 85 years that they had beaten Arsenal in a cup tie.

Referee Graham Poll booked nine men and sent off Patrick Vieira in a bad-tempered London derby.

Mark Hughes, five times a Wembley winner, took just 10 minutes to level the scores on aggregate with the only on-target shot of the first half.

After Vieira had seen red for a bad foul on Graeme Le Saux, Arsenal went to pieces.

In the 50th minute Roberto Di Matteo crashed home a 30-yard pile-driver second goal as Arsene Wenger's men lost the plot.

Three minutes later Dan Petrescu struck the fatal blow as the Gunners' normally solid defence went to sleep.

Gianfranco Zola's corner somehow found its way to the Romanian, who side-stepped two tackles before toe-poking past Alex Manninger low into the corner.

When Vialli substituted himself with nine minutes left, he was given a rapturous ovation from the Stamford Bridge faithful.

Michael Duberry, who had a superb game overall, handled the ball late on and Dennis Bergkamp slid home from the penalty spot to set up a grandstand finish.

But Arsenal, without the injured Ian Wright and several other key players, were unable to puncture the Chelsea defence.

At the end Vialli hugged his assistant Graham Rix and reserve goalkeeper Kevin Hitchcock as they celebrated their Wembley date on March 29.








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