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Fulham lack killer instinct - Guardian

last updated Monday 15th April 2002, 11:18 PM
Fulham - The Guardian by Jon Brodkin
Fulham (0) 0 Chelsea (1) 1
Fulham were unable to break their semi hoodoo as defender Terry's goal from close range earned The Blues a place in an all-London final

Recent weeks have not been easy for John Terry, with the unwanted publicity of a court case and his subsequent exclusion from England squads. Last night, though, the centre-half guaranteed himself the headlines every player dreams of by taking his club, Chelsea, to the FA Cup final.

     
  Fulham striker Louis Saha  
  Fulham striker Louis Saha unfortunately involved in the winning goal for Chelsea
 
 
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It was fitting that Terry's scrappy goal from a corner proved decisive for this was a victory built on the defensive qualities he and Marcel Desailly epitomised. In the face of heavy second-half pressure Chelsea survived, helped by the usual lack of killer instinct from their neighbours.

Fitful rather than flowing, Claudio Ranieri's team none the less progress to a meeting with Arsenal in Cardiff. Had Eidur Gudjohnsen taken either of two fine late chances, the last minutes would have been less nervy.

If either side required an added incentive, it had been provided by Arsenal's victory in the earlier semi-final. The winners of this game knew they would be guaranteed a Uefa Cup place as Arsène Wenger's team will take a Champions League berth.

Ranieri was aware his team were expected to defeat Fulham, whose poor league form has left them in danger of relegation. The Chelsea manager had presumably warned his players about the pain of losing a semi-final, though perhaps not in the terms he used in the programme.

"A semi-final is the worst time to lose in a cup," he explained. "In Italy we have a saying: 'It is like going to Rome but not seeing the Pope.'" The Italian has twice made it to the metaphorical Vatican, winning domestic cups with Valencia in Spain and Fiorentina in Italy.

Ranieri may have thought the heavens were against him when Graeme le Saux suffered what appeared to be a calf strain inside five minutes and was forced off. With Celestine Babayaro absent because of a knock, the little used Albert Ferrer filled in at left-back.

There was little to worry the Spaniard during a frenetic opening, however. Fulham struggled to find fluency and the better attacking moments tended to come from Chelsea, who held more of the possession without creating much from open play.

Frank Lampard and Jesper Gronkjaer were let down by their final passes after encour aging breaks down the right flank. When Terry had a sight of goal from a corner which Fulham failed to clear, his powerful shot was acrobatically saved by Edwin van der Sar.

Terry was enjoying an excellent start at centre-back. One chase and tackle to stem a break by Sean Davis stood out and he was resolute in every challenge. The shame for him, particularly with Ugo Ehiogu and Sol Campbell picking up injuries yesterday, is that he will not be considered by England while his court case is ongoing.

Behind Terry, Carlo Cudicini enjoyed a watching brief for almost half an hour. Fulham, as so often, had only infrequent width high up the field and their efforts through the middle were snuffed out.
Match Stats Fulham Chelsea
Goal attempts 8 10
On Target 5 4
Hit woodwork 0 1
Fouls 17 10
Offsides 2 1
Corners 5 8
Yellows 2 2
Reds 0 0
source: www.sports.com



They were happy to take a direct route to their strikers at times but it was a fine, flowing move which brought their first chance. Sylvain Legwinski burst from deep, exchanged passes with Steve Marlet and brought a superb save out of Cudicini.

Louis Saha later headed over a Steve Finnan cross but Chelsea were causing the more frequent problems, despite struggling to get Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Gudjohnsen into the game as much as they would have liked.

Their breakthrough came shortly before half-time, after Van der Sar made a good block from Mario Stanic to concede a corner. Hasselbaink's cross hit Mario Melchiot and fell for Terry to force over the line via Saha.

Van der Sar may reflect that he should have collected his fel low Dutchman's corner; he had plenty of time to think about that during the first 20 minutes of the second half as Fulham did almost all the pressing, often passing sharply, without finding the killer touch.

When Saha burst clear he ignored team-mates and was halted by Desailly. John Collins' delivery was poor when a measured cross might have brought an equaliser and Desailly made another important block when Marlet threatened.

Chelsea might have sealed matters on the counter-attack long before the end. Emmanuel Petit shot wide and Gudjohnsen hit a post before wasting two opportunities to seal the game. Perhaps it was meant to be Terry's night.

Fulham:
Van der Sar, Finnan, Melville, Goma, Brevett, Malbranque, Davis, Legwinski (Hayles 87), Collins (Boa Morte 65), Saha, Marlet.

Subs Not Used: Taylor, Knight, Ouaddou.

Booked: Finnan(70, F), Boa Morte(90, F).

Chelsea:
Cudicini, Melchiot, Terry, Desailly, Le Saux (Ferrer 4), Stanic (Zenden 76), Lampard, Petit, Gronkjaer, Gudjohnsen, Hasselbaink (Jokanovic 85).

Subs Not Used: de Goey, Zola.

Booked: Ferrer, Gronkjaer.

Goals: Terry 42.

Att: 36,147 Ref: G Poll (Tring)

Source The Guardian by Jon Brodkin
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