Our quest to lift three consecutive FA Cup trophies is over after Everton came from 1-0 down in extra-time to level the score before sending us out 4-3 on penalties.
Everton made the sharper start, pressing us high up the field. This was reflected in the first chance of the game when the ball broke to Leon Osman on the left hand side of the pitch; he wasn’t closed down and allowed to try his luck from 25 yards. His shot was low and firm, but zipped straight into the midriff of Petr Cech.
Everton continued to push forward without threatening our goal. Leighton Baines attacked down the left wing and crossed towards the back post where Seamus Coleman headed it back across goal towards the penalty spot. John Obi Mikel was on hand to clear but was barged in the back by Marouane Fellaini and the referee blew for a foul as Osman rattled a snapshot beyond the right-hand post.
We took 20 minutes to create our first meaningful attempt on goal and even that came from the head of an Everton player. Ashley Cole bought a free-kick on the left flank and Frank Lampard duly whipped an in-swinging cross into the penalty area where Phil Jagielka could only get a glancing header onto the ball to direct it onto the right-hand post. It rebounded back out into the box where John Terry flung himself at it, but could only send it over the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
We built on this pressure with Salomon Kalou attacking the byline before cutting the ball back to Lampard who had taken up an inside position just outside the six yard box. After seeing his first attempt blocked he shaped to shoot on the follow up only to see a host of bodies charging out to block and quickly shifted the ball back out to Florent Malouda who was arriving at the edge of the box.
Malouda struck it first time but Tim Howard got down well to block with his legs and it came out to the edge of the box where Ashley Cole controlled before laying it off for Didier Drogba. He took a touch before going for goal but drilled his shot wide of the left-hand post.
We continued to turn the screw with our best chance of the game so far coming just after the half hour mark. Drogba did well to control on his chest before flicking the ball past Jagielka and sliding the ball into the box for Malouda who had got goal side of his marker. Malouda held off the defender and got his shot away, but couldn’t get it up and over Howard who had closed the angle quickly to once again deny us the lead.
We then had a penalty claim waved away at the brink of half-time. Kalou played a first time pass through for Ramires to chase down the far side and as he raced into the right-hand edge of the penalty area Howard charged out to meet him. Ramires got to the ball first and pushed it away from the keeper and put his heels together to go down as Howard came in.
The referee took a look at his assistant, who had an excellent view, and promptly took out his yellow card to book Ramires for simulation. It was a marginal call and the Chelsea fans around Stamford Bridge voiced their displeasure with the officials as they brought the half to a close.
We continued the second half where we left off, almost immediately creating a chance to break the deadlock. Drogba drew a foul high on the left and whipped the free-kick in towards the far post. Howard wasn’t distracted by the runners, and Kalou couldn’t quite get his head onto it as the ball ran through for the Everton keeper to collect comfortably.
Everton then had two quick fire chances in succession. The first came from a free-kick swung in from the left by Baines, it arrived at the front post where Osman managed to get his head to it but his touch wasn’t deft enough and he diverted it straight into the arms of Cech.
Moments later the visitors created a chance down the right, with Mikel Arteta profiting from Lampard’s unusually lax attempt to clear before picking out Jermaine Beckford in space in the middle. His cross was slightly behind the 27-year-old but Beckford had time to control. Instead, he went for goal first time and his attempt was always rising as it flew way over the crossbar.
We then turned on the style with a lovely passing move starting from the right flank. It was played inside to Kalou who played it towards the byline first time for Ramires, who got his head up and spotted Lampard in front of his marker at the near post. The Brazilian cut it back and Lampard hit it first time, forcing a smart save by Howard to push it past the right-hand post.
We nearly found a way through from the resultant corner, with Branislav Ivanovic ghosting in at the back post completely unmarked. His attempt was from close range, but Howard was in a good position and managed to get a block onto it and keep the score level.
As extra time loomed, we continued to press forward in search of a decisive goal. Lampard tried to play Malouda in behind Everton’s defensive line but the Frenchman had to check back, allowing the visitors to get men behind the ball to cover. Malouda laid it off to Lampard on the edge of the box but he sent flying over the crossbar.
Everton had the ball in the back of the net with one minute to go. They worked a free-kick on the left with Arteta playing the ball inside to Baines who skipped past an onrushing defender before playing the ball through towards Fellaini who had made a run across his marker. The initial shot was saved but he pounced onto the rebound to put it beyond Cech and into the back of the net.
As he peeled away to celebrate Chelsea supporters jeered in delight as they saw the assistant raise his flag for offside. It was the correct decision and soon after Phil Dowd brought the 90 minutes to a close.
Carlo Ancelotti withdrew Malouda in favour of Nicolas Anelka at the start of extra-time and soon after David Moyes responded with a defensive change, bringing on John Heitinga in place of Osman. This set the tone for the balance of play, with Everton lining up a defensive wall in front of their penalty box in order to restrict our chances.
Drogba had the next attempt on goal, with Anelka receiving the ball on the left hand edge of the box before feeding it inside. It was eventually worked in to Drogba on the far edge of the area who went for goal but it was rushed and sailed safely over the bar.
We finally found a way through towards the end of the first half of extra time, Anelka did brilliantly to wrestle the ball off two Everton defenders on the right before a bit of skill saw him break free of their attention before crossing into the middle. Drogba miscontrolled but Lampard was on hand to drill home past Howard to give us the lead.
Everton had already used up all their substitutes so couldn’t inject a fresh impetus from the bench. They spent much of the last 15 minutes trying to go long towards Fellaini but this didn’t result in any chances on goal as we looked to have successfully absorbed the late Everton pressure.
The visitors had one last chance to drag themselves back into the tie when they were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area one minute from time. Arteta and Baines stood over the ball and it was Baines that stepped up to strike. His shot cleared the wall and Cech was helpless as it zipped straight into the top right-hand corner to send the tie to penalties.
Baines went from hero to villain for his side as he stepped up and saw his weak penalty saved with Cech diving to his left to push it wide of the target after Lampard had converted the first penalty. Drogba and Jagielka scored to leave it at 2-1 before Howard saved Anelka’s attempt. He went high to the keeper’s right but didn’t have the power to send it beyond Howard who got a hand to it.
Arteta levelled for his side as he hammered it high into the top left-hand corner of the goal before Essien made no mistake to hand the advantage back to Chelsea. Heitinga kept his cool under the pressure and found the side netting to bring Everton back on level terms before Ashley Cole blazed over with his side’s final penalty of the five.
Captain Phil Neville stepped up to send his side through to the fifth round hammering the ball into the top left-hand corner to spark wild celebrations from the Everton supporters in the Shed End.
Gill Reeves CSG disabled rep
• 01 Cech
• 02 Ivanovic
• 03 A Cole
• 19 Ferreira
• 26 Terry
• 07 Ramires – yellow card
• 08 Lampard
• 12 Mikel (Essien 46)
• 15 Malouda – yellow card (Anelka 91)
• 11 Drogba
• 21 Kalou (Zhirkov 111)
• 22 Turnbull,
• 34 Bertrand,
• 05 Essien,
• 18 Zhirkov,
• 46 McEachran,
• 55 Sala,
• 39 Anelka
• 24 Howard
• 03 Baines – yellow card
• 06 Jagielka
• 15 Distin – yellow card
• 18 Neville
• 23 Coleman – yellow card
• 10 Arteta – yellow card
• 17 Cahill (Bilyaletdinov 70)
• 21 Osman (Heitinga 95)
• 25 Fellaini
• 16 Beckford (Anichebe 80)
• 01 Mucha,
• 02 Hibbert,
• 05 Heitinga,
• 34 Shane Duffy,
• 07 Bilyaletdinov,
• 28 Anichebe,
• 37 Baxter