With former Chelsea striker Demba Ba announcing his retirement as a player on Monday at the age of 36, we take a fond look back at five of his most important matches during his time in west London.
The Senegal international only played 51 games for the Blues from 2013 to 2014 but he became a big favourite with the Stamford Bridge faithful after making some memorable contributions to our cause.
After completing his move from Newcastle United on 4 January 2013, Ba was thrown straight into the fray when he was named in the starting line-up for our FA Cup visit to Southampton the following day.
His impact was immediate as he opened his Chelsea account after 35 minutes, tapping the ball home after great build-up work by Eden Hazard and Juan Mata to level the score at 1-1. He then turned in Hazard’s incisive pass at the near post for his second of the game and Chelsea’s fourth just after the hour as we coasted through to the fourth round with a comprehensive 5-1 victory.
Having come from two goals down to force an FA Cup quarter-final replay against Manchester United, the Blues hosted the Red Devils in an Easter Monday lunchtime match in April 2013 which was decided by a moment of brilliance by Ba.
On 49 minutes, Juan Mata lofted a perfectly weighted pass over the top of the United defence towards the Senegalese striker who stretched to meet the ball on the volley and hooked it past a stunned David De Gea into the opposite corner for the only goal of the game.
Sent on as a late substitute against Tottenham Hotspur at the Bridge in March 2014, Ba made his mark by capitalising on errors by the Spurs defence to score twice in two minutes to seal a 4-0 victory.
He got his first in the 88th minute, taking advantage after Sandro tripped over his own feet while trying to cut off a cross by Oscar, before quickly adding his second as he turned the ball into the unguarded net after intercepting Kyle Walker’s weak header back to goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Ba’s most dramatic moment as a Chelsea player came in our Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain in April 2014 when the France-born forward broke French hearts with a crucial late strike.
Seeking to overturn a 3-1 deficit from the first leg, the Blues laid siege to the PSG goal in search of an elusive second goal. It finally arrived in the 87th minute when Cesar Azpilicueta’s low shot ricocheted towards the six-yard box where Ba slipped past his marker to turn the ball home, sparking wild celebrations at the Bridge as we advanced on away goals.
Smash and grab
The last of Ba’s 14 goals for Chelsea helped us to a famous 2-0 win at Anfield which effectively derailed Liverpool’s hopes of a first league title for 24 years.
In first-half stoppage time, he gathered a loose ball near the centre-circle after Steven Gerrard had miscontrolled and slipped, and Ba dribbled unchallenged to the edge of the box before coolly slotting past Simon Mignolet to give us the lead as we extended the agony of Reds fans for another season.