Did we score too soon?

Everton scored the quickest goal in the 138 year history of the FA Cup today, when Louis Saha fired home a bullet in the 25th second from a Mo Fellaini knockdown. At that point, I said to guy next to me at the bar, “only 89 and a half minutes to defend.”

That was joke, but Everton seemed to intent on just this approach. It was never going to succeed, and by the 21st minute Chelsea had leveled through Didier Drogba. They then dominated the rest of the half.

Everton came out strong in the second half, and this was the key portion of the match. If Everton could score, this time it would have a manageable amount of time in which to defend the lead. If Everton could not, Chelsea was likely to take over the match, as the 100 degree heat wore us down.

Then, in the 72nd minute: an unsuccessful challenge by Phil Neville, a shot that Tim Howard probably should have stopped, and Chelsea had the lead through Frank Lampard.

After that Everton, worn down indeed from chasing much of the match in the heat, was unable to mount a serious threat. Rather, it was Chelsea who had their tails up, and should have had a third goal — the line judge failing to see that man-of-the-match Florent Malouda’s shot cleared the goal line after bouncing down from the cross bar.

So ends a great Everton season (who imagined we’d still be playing after Manchester United was done). But the bottom line is, we still can’t compete with soccer’s true elite when the stakes are this high.

Cheers to the memory of my late constitutional law professor Gerald Gunther, Chelsea fan extraordinaire; cheers to the Chelsea fan who bought me a drink to drown my sorrows; and cheers to Guus Hiddink (once of the Washington Diplomats), John Terry, and the rest of a great Chelsea side.


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