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Alan Green reports
"Chelsea just about deserved it - but it was a disappointing game"
 real 28k

Chelsea keeper Ed de Goey
"It was a difficult game, but we were up for it"
 real 28k

Saturday, 20 May, 2000, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Chelsea claim FA Cup glory

Ecstatic Chelsea celebrate Di Matteo's winner
Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa

A blunder by Aston Villa keeper David James handed Chelsea victory in the last FA Cup final to be played under Wembley's Twin Towers.

Roberto is a great man - he very much likes to play here and score goals

Gianluca Vialli

Gianfranco Zola's free-kick from deep on the left was fumbled by James as he went up to meet it, gifting the Blues' Roberto di Matteo after 72 minutes - in the 72nd Wembley FA Cup clash.

This was the last final to be played at Wembley before it is torn down to make way for a new redeveloped national stadium.

And the historic match was also of great significance for Chelsea, guaranteeing them a place in the Uefa Cup and elevating boss Gianluca Vialli to the status of the most successful Blues manager in history.

Di Matteo's strike put to rights a controversially disallowed goal for Dennis Wise 16 minutes earlier and rewarded Chelsea for a second half that they dominated from the 50th minute.
David James
Fateful moment: James fumbles

The scoring omens were not good for this match, with Villa and Chelsea producing just one goal between them in their two Premiership encounters.

After an uninspired first half, the encounter desperately needed some spark, which was duly provided by Wise's disallowed effort and George Weah's howling miss from four yards just three minutes later.

With 15 minutes of the match gone, Weah had already stunned the Wembley crowd for a different reason, when a cheeky back-flick over his head wrong-footed the Villa defence.

But it was one of the few bright moments in a half that became bogged down in a tight midfield duel.

Villa slowly eased their way into the game, blunting Chelsea's early sharpness and twice worrying Ed de Goey in the Blues' goal through shots from Paul Merson and a free-kick courtesy of a Di Matteo handball.
Dion Dublin
Dublin: Not much joy

Aston Villa started the second half with greater ambition, Taylor nodding a cross just to the right of the Chelsea goal and a Merson corner finding Gareth Southgate, who headed over the crossbar.

The Blues responded immediately, with Zola sliding a through-ball into the area for Weah whose blistering shot skittered fractionally wide of the left upright.

With 56 minutes gone, Frank Leboeuf's chip fell to Di Matteo who fired a first-touch rocket at James. The keeper failed to gather and Wise was on hand to poke it home.

But it was disallowed after Weah strayed very marginally the wrong side of the Villa defence.

The Liberian somehow failed to make up for it when he sent a ball over the crossbar from point-blank range three minutes later.

And he confirmed that his luck was completely out after some clairvoyance from James allowed him to intercept his clever overhead kick following a melee in the Villa area.
George Weah
Weah squandered a perfect chance

But Chelsea were finally rewarded when Dutch fullback Mario Melchiot was given the benefit of the doubt to the deep left of the Villa area and awarded a free-kick for a trip.

James lost Zola's searching cross in the crowd, gifting Di Matteo his third goal in Wembley finals - one league cup and two FA Cup strikes.

Benito Carbone could have equalised with 10 minutes to go when a similar blunder by De Goey left the Blues' goal totally exposed, but he scuffed the shot and it was cleared off the line by Leboeuf.

Di Matteo almost embarrassed James again with a beautifully flighted lob from the wide left that bounced of the top right corner of the post.

Villa confirmed that it just was not to be their day when Merson's cross presented Ugo Ehiogu with an open goal, but he headed over.

An injury-time free-kick for handball saw the whole Aston Villa side - including James - dash into the Chelsea area. It made no difference as the ball was comfortably cleared to touch and the referee blew the whistle for fulltime and joyous Blues celebrations.

Teams

Aston Villa: James, Barry, Southgate, Ehiogu, Wright, Boateng, Taylor, Merson, Delaney, Dublin, Carbone.
Subs: Joachim, Hendrie, Stone, Samuel, Enckelman.

Chelsea: de Goey, Babayaro, Leboeuf, Desailly, Melchiot, Deschamps, Di Matteo, Poyet, Wise, Zola, Weah.
Subs: Flo, Morris, Cudicini, Terry, Harley.

Referee: G Poll (Tring)

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See also:

20 May 00 | FA Cup
Wembley clockwatch
13 May 00 | FA Cup
Roads to Wembley
13 May 00 | FA Cup
Aston Villa squad guide
13 May 00 | FA Cup
Chelsea squad guide
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