|FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (left) reacts after scoring with his teammate Sergio Busquets against Espanyol during a Spanish La Liga on Saturday. (AP-Yonhap News)|
WEMBLEY (AP) ― Four goals in four FA Cup finals, and now four winners’ medals for Didier Drogba.
Cementing his status as Chelsea’s player for the big occasions, Drogba clinched a 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Saturday to prove his enduring value to the team at the age of 34.
“He is my hero,” midfielder Frank Lampard said. “No striker I have ever played with has scored so many important goals in finals.”
In fact, no player has ever scored in as many FA Cup finals as Drogba.
“That’s the reason why I came here, to win trophies and to make history with the club,” said Drogba, who joined Chelsea in 2004. “The result is great for us, for the fans, for the club. Our fourth FA Cup final, fourth win, fourth trophy.”
But it could be his last FA Cup as the Ivorian’s contract expires at the end of the season.
“He’s not 65. He’s a top professional,” Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said when asked about Drogba’s future.
Drogba scored his eighth goal in eight games at Wembley in the 52nd minute of the 131st final of the competition, with Chelsea already leading through Ramires’ deflected 11th-minute strike.
BARCELONA (AP) ― Lionel Messi scored four times to take his season tally to an unprecedented 72 goals and give Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola a 4-0 win over crosstown rival Espanyol in his last home game at Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday.
Messi’s scoring display was a fitting farewell for the coach who helped the Argentina forward become the world’s best player and forged Barcelona into one of the best teams to have played football.
After scoring his Spanish league-record 50th goal, Messi went to the sideline to embrace Guardiola, who is leaving after 13 titles in four seasons.
The only other player to have scored 70 goals in a first-division season was Archie Stark of Bethlehem Steel in the American Soccer League in 1924-25.
Real Madrid, which clinched the league title in the last round, won 2-1 at Granada thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 45th league goal and David Cortes’ own goal in stoppage time.
“Life has given me this gift during the past five years of being able to live with these players and enjoy this spectacle,” Guardiola told the packed stands following his 97th win in 118 home games.
BERLIN (AP) ― Cologne was relegated on the final day of the Bundesliga season on Saturday following a 4-1 home defeat to Bayern Munich, while Hertha Berlin clinched the playoff place with a 3-1 win over 10-man Hoffenheim.
Cologne fans reacted to the club’s fifth relegation by setting off flares and smoke bombs, engulfing one stand in black smoke as riot police were deployed on the pitch.
Hertha started the day behind Cologne and needed a win and a favor from Bayern to avoid the drop.
Hertha now faces a two-leg playoff against the third-place side from the second tier to decide which team plays in the Bundesliga next season. The first game against Duesseldorf, Paderborn or St. Pauli is on Thursday, with the second leg on May 15.
Borussia Dortmund, already assured of its second straight title, celebrated with a 4-0 win over Freiburg to stretch its record unbeaten run to 28 games within a season and set a new Bundesliga record of 81 points.
The champion also equaled Bayern’s record of 25 wins in a season.
MILAN (AP) ― Lecce is on the verge of relegation after losing 1-0 at home to Fiorentina in Serie A as new coach Vincenzo Guerini won his first game in charge of the Tuscan side on Saturday.
Alessio Cerci scored the only goal of the game 10 minutes before halftime. Lecce goalkeeper Massimiliano Benassi almost equalized in injury time but his strike hit his own teammate.
Francesco Totti scored twice and had a penalty saved as Roma drew 2-2 with Catania in the veteran striker’s 500th Serie A match.
Lecce is three points off Genoa, which plays Udinese on Sunday. Lecce still has a slight chance of avoiding the drop if Genoa loses its last two games.
Lecce must win its final match at Chievo Verona next weekend to survive on goal difference, as it has a level head-to-head record with Genoa. Both games between the sides finished in a draw.