~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FA Cup Quarter-Final ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sunday 9th March 1997 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Portsmouth (1) Chelsea (4)
Burton 82’ M. Hughes 35’
Wise 43’ 86’
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Attendance: 15,701 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A crowd of nearly 16,000 turned up at Fratton Park to cheer on a First Division Portsmouth side facing Premier League high flyers Chelsea, who were attempting to reach the semi-final stage for the second consecutive season.
A star-studded side, including current Chelsea caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo, gave the South Coast side a poignant reminder of who were the Premier League outfit, as a Dennis Wise brace, as well as goals from Mark Hughes and Gianfranco Zola, sent Chelsea fans ecstatic, and one step closer to Wembley.
Despite an average league campaign, where the Londoners finished 6th, it was to be a memorable one for all associated with the club, as they went on to lift the FA Cup for just the second time in their history, ending a barren trophyless spell, where they had gone nearly 30 years without lifting a major trophy.
In the final, Chelsea overcame a Middlesbrough team, who as well as getting relegated, finished runners-up in both domestic cups.
It was Roberto Di Matteo who shone in that game, setting the fastest goal record in a Wembley FA Cup final, scoring a piledriver after just 42 seconds.
Overall, a great season for Chelsea, as this game 15 years ago today, sent them on their way to a historic cup victory, one that will last long in the memory of Chelsea fans.
With Chelsea now through the the FA Cup Quarter Finals again, could they be on their way to another trophy, despite all the off-the-field problems they have had this season..
By Brad Smith