Chelsea benefited from a controversial goal from Juan Mata as they advanced to the FA Cup final with a 5-1 win over Tottenham on Sunday.
Rafael van der Vaart had efforts cleared off the line and against the post in the first half – but Didier Drogba’s sensational turn-and-shot ensured a half-time Blues lead.
Referee Martin Atkinson incited shock after the restart when he judged that Mata’s effort had bypassed a crowd on the line and gone in, though Spurs’ anger lifted a little when Bale slotted home shortly after.
But a late treble for the Blues was to come though – Ramires’ finish after beating the offside trap and a fantastic free-kick strike from Frank Lampard before Florent Malouda’s last-gasp fifth – ensuring their advancement to face Liverpool in the final on May 5.
The game started on a sour note as a pocket of Chelsea fans jeered during a pre-match minute’s silence in memory of those who died at the Hillsborough disaster as well as Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini.
Spurs nearly took the lead on 36 minutes when Van der Vaart met Aaron Lennon’s cross, but his header met Terry on the line, whose knee kept it out.
If Adebayor had got a similar touch with his knee when he lunged to meet a stunning cross from the right from Van der Vaart, it might again have been 1-0, but as it was the delivery bypassed both he and Cech before coming back off the post.
And Spurs’ failure to capitalise was punished when Drogba struck. Out of nothing, the striker received the ball with his back to goal.
He seemed to be heading away from danger when he touched it to the left, but instead swivelled around Gallas and hammered it left-footed past the helpless Cudicini.
Controversy struck just after half time as an almighty scramble in the box saw players pile up along the line and Mata get a shot into the melee.
From some distance away, referee Atkinson ruled that it crossed the line, but television replays appeared inconclusive whilst Spurs protested.
Tottenham, though, got back into it within five minutes. Adebayor powered through the centre and Cech rushed forward to meet him. The keeper brought the Togolese down clearly but was spared a red card as Bale was on hand to knock it into the net.
Ramires restored Chelsea’s two-goal buffer in the 77th minute. Assou-Ekotto’s deep position allowed Mata to dink the ball forward for the advanced Ramires without fear of offside, the pass picking him out perfectly, and the Brazilian promptly buried it.
Lampard made it 4-1 when he fired in a wicked free kick from long range, before substitute Malouda confirmed the rout by finishing between Cudicini’s legs following a Mata assist.