Carling Cup Final
Didier Drogba's double was enough for Chelsea to see off Arsenal's young Guns as they defeated their rivals 2-1 in a Carling Cup final that was marred by three late red cards and a serious injury to John Terry.
The first all-London showdown in League Cup final history will certainly live long in the memory after a dramatic afternoon that saw Arsene Wenger's youngsters dismiss any fears of stage fright when Theo Walcott rose to the occasion by scoring his first goal for the club after 12 minutes.
However Chelsea's superstars drew level when Drogba stroked the ball home, although the decision to give the striker onside may have angered Wenger as he aimed to orchestrate his first victory over Jose Mourinho.
What was a beguiling final - pitting two contrasting squad building philosophies against each other - took a nasty turn when Terry's return from injury was cut short as he was taken to hospital following a sickening head injury.
Losing their skipper only seemed to galvanise The Blues - who hit the woodwork through Frank Lampard and Andrei Shevchenko - and it was Drogba yet again who proved to be the match-winner as he handed Mourinho his fourth major trophy in English football.
There was no love lost between the two sides before kick-off and tempers duly boiled over in injury-time as John Obi Mikel, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor earned red cards following an unseemly brawl.
In the opening stages The Gunners showed that whilst they may have been lacking in experience, there was no reason to doubt their temperament as they dominated play with their snappy passing and fluid movement.
Cesc Fabregas, at 19 the senior figure in Arsenal's midfield, saw a 25-yard effort comfortably saved by Petr Cech, whilst Jeremie Aliadiere was only inches away from connecting with Julio Baptista's pull-back.
The Brazilian forward had scored six goals in the previous rounds - including four against Liverpool at Anfield - and but for a superb diving save from Cech he would have made it a magnificent seven with a fierce rising drive.
However, The Gunners did manage to capitalise on their confident start and after 12 minutes, Walcott came of age with his first ever goal for the North Londoners.
The 17-year-old prodigy started the move with a square pass to Abou Diaby, continued his run into the box, and received the ball back before picking out the far corner of Cech's net with a measured finish.
It was a wonderful moment for the player who had seen his contribution questioned in recent weeks, and Arsenal thought they should have had the chance to claim a second soon after when Baptista appealed in vain for a penalty after tangling with Lassana Diarra in the box.
Chelsea's superstars had been put firmly in the shade by their young opponents, but The Blues demonstrated the resilience that has served them so well under Mourinho by clawing back an equaliser on 20 minutes.
Drogba looked to be marginally offside when being played in by Michael Ballack's ball over the top, but the Ivorian did not hang around to find out and finished neatly through the legs of Manuel Almunia for his 27th of a superb season.
However, Arsenal responded and their pace continued to trouble the Premiership champions. Armand Traore was a dynamic influence at left-back, and after Cech fumbled his cross the angle was too tight for Aliadiere to convert.
In a captivating first half, Chelsea also upped their input and Shevchenko should have done a lot better when he produced a weak header from Wayne Bridge's cross.
It had been a strangely lacklustre performance from Chelsea and Mourinho responded by introducing Dutch winger Arjen Robben in place of holding midfielder Claude Makelele.
Three minutes after the restart Chelsea were again thanking Cech after he pulled off a good save to deny Diaby, who had been played in by Baptista after a quick free-kick from The Gunners.
Wenger's charges continued to impress with Fabregas fizzing a shot inches wide after avoiding the close attentions of Ballack, but Baptista could only find the wall after Ricardo Carvalho was booked for a foul on Aliadiere.
Diarra also earned a caution for a cynical foul on Diaby, and the young Frenchman could have considered himself somewhat lucky to be on the pitch after avoiding a card for a similar challenge in the first half.
The introduction of Robben had given The Blues a much-needed extra dimension and the Dutchman began to cause Traore problems at left-back. After skipping past the teenager for a second time Robben curled a subsequent effort high and wide.
Terry's afternoon was then curtailed when the England skipper suffered an apparently serious injury when Diaby's foot connected with his face in sickening fashion. The Arsenal man was attempting to clear from a corner and Terry was stretchered off in a neck brace following a lengthy delay in proceedings.
The severity of the injury was displayed by the immediate concern shown by both sets o of players, and Mourinho replaced his skipper with Mikel as Arsenal also rung the changes with Alexander Hleb and Emmanuel Eboue on for Diaby and Traore.
When the focus returned to footballing matters, the North Londoners were thankful for a fine save from Almunia as he got down quickly to save from Drogba.
The Spaniard was left with no chance on 74 minutes when Frank Lampard unleashed a thunderous long-rage effort, but luckily for Arsenal the ball rattled the woodwork and bounced to safety.
However Wenger's men could not stem the tide and, after Denilson gave the ball away with a sloppy pass, Drogba won his personal duel with Philippe Senderos again when he got in front of his marker to produce a superb header from Robben's cross for a 2-1 lead.
Shevchenko almost sealed the victory when he slammed a shot against the woodwork, and as the game entered injury-time the match exploded when Mikel and Toure instigated a shoving match that resulted in both managers taking the field to calm their players down.
As the dust settled, both players were dismissed along with Adebayor, and Fabregas and Lampard were lucky to get away with bookings as they became tangled.
It was an explosive conclusion to a breathless game, and as the clock ticked past 101 minutes, referee Howard Webb finally blew his whistle to confirm that Chelsea were the victors in the Carling Cup.