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  Sunday, 14 April, 2002, 19:57 GMT 20:57 UK
Chelsea edge out Fulham
Terry kneels in front of his team-mates after scoring
Fulham 0-1 Chelsea
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Chelsea clinched an FA Cup Final confrontation with Premiership rivals Arsenal in Cardiff as they edged out Fulham in an eventful encounter at Villa Park.

John Terry's goal just before half-time proved the difference between the west London neighbours on a night of disappointment for Jean Tigana's team.

Fulham's Louis Saha may ultimately be credited with an own goal, but no-one wanted to take the deciding strike away from Terry.

Chelsea deserved their victory after creating and wasting a host of chances, but Fulham will once again regret enjoying plenty of possession without delivering the final punch.

Claudio Ranieri consoles injured Graeme Le Saux
The victory gave Chelsea the unique distinction of reaching three FA Cup Finals under three different foreign coaches in the last six years, Ruud Gullit, Gianluca Vialli and now the Italian Ranieri.

It was the perfect way for Ranieri to celebrate signing a new five-year contract at Stamford Bridge - but it was an unconvincing display from his side and they will have to produce better on 4 May.

Chelsea were struck by an early blow when they lost former England defender Graeme Le Saux in bizarre circumstances in the third minute.

Le Saux collapsed in agony clutching the back of his leg when under no pressure and moving at walking pace.

Brilliant save

It swiftly became clear he could not continue and he was stretchered off, layer returning to the dug-out on crutches.

Terry posted the danger signals for the Fulham rearguard with an uncharacteristic volley which brought an acrobatic save out of Edwin Van der Sar after 12 minutes.

Chances were at a premium in a cagey opening period, but Chelsea were grateful to goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, who produced a brilliant save to deny Fulham an opening goal.

Van der Sar saves brilliantly from Terry
Sylvain Legwinski exchanged passes with Steve Marlet only to see Cudicini save instinctively with an outstretched hand from eight yards.

Croatian Mario Stanic's individual brilliance almost broke the deadlock as half-time approached, as he beat two Fulham defenders but shot against Van der Sar's legs from an angle.

It was only a brief reprieve for the Cottagers as Chelsea took the lead in the 39th minute from the resulting corrner.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's corner bounced of Mario Melchiot and Terry scored via the legs of Saha.

It may go down as an own goal, but it was clear Terry was taking the credit as he wheeled away in delight.

Fulham mounted a spirited second half fightback, but as so often in their season, their approach play was not matched by their finishing.

Gudjohnsen misses from close range
Chelsea still looked more likely to add a second, and after Emmanuel Petit shot wide, Eidur Gudjohnsen struck an upright after 66 minutes with a curling drive as Van der Sar could only look on.

The previously low-key semi-final sparked into angry confrontation with ten minutes to go, when Petit and Sean Davis squared up before Terry was involved with a group of Fulham players.

Jesper Gronkjaer, who had just been booked, twice set up Gudjohnsen for what should have been the decider within the space of seconds.

The normally reliable Icelander first shot wildly over the bar with only Van der Sar to beat, then shot tamely wide in a similar position.

Ranieri then made one of his typically eccentric substitutions, removing Hasselbaink for the hate figure of Stamford Bridge fans Slavisa Jokanovic.

But no damage was done and Chelsea were home and dry.


Fulham: Van der Sar, Finnan, Melville, Goma, Brevett, Malbranque, Davis, Legwinski, Collins, Saha, Marlet. Subs: Taylor, Hayles, Knight, Boa Morte, Ouaddou.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Melchiot, Terry, Desailly, Le Saux, Stanic, Lampard, Petit, Gronkjaer, Gudjohnsen, Hasselbaink. Subs: de Goey, Jokanovic, Zenden, Ferrer, Zola.

Referee: G Poll (Tring)

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Ian Brown
"Terry capped a great performance with a goal"
Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri
"Semi-finals are always nervous matches"
Chelsea's Marcel Desailly
"I am happy for the fans"
Chelsea's Emmanuel Petit
"We are very happy to be in the final"
See also:

14 Apr 02 |  Eng Div 1
Wolves keep hopes alive
Links to more FA Cup stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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