Fa Cup |
Kluivert gives 'em the blues
Chelsea's quest for an historic quadruple of trophies was laid to rest as a Patrick Kluivert goal saw Newcastle maintain their bid to lift the FA Cup for the first time in 50 years by booking a place in the sixth round with a 1-0 victory.
Jose Mourinho's decision to rest roughly 100million poundsworth of talent backfired as the Stamford Bridge club paid the price for concentrating too heavily on the Champions League trip to Barcelona, with their first loss to an English club in four months.
Mourinho introduced substitutes Frank Lampard, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Damien Duff at half-time in an attempt to cancel out Kluivert's fourth minute winner, which has saved bookmakers an estimated 20million pounds they were expecting to pay-out had Chelsea claimed four trophies this term.
However the move proved ill-advised as his side were forced to operate for the last 40 minutes with 10 men after Wayne Bridge, the England international, was stretchered off and taken to hospital with a suspected broken ankle as he fell awkwardly following an innocuous challenge with Newcastle skipper Alan Shearer.
Chelsea ended the game with nine men after Carlo Cudicini, the Italian goalkeeper, was red carded for an injury-time professional foul on substitute Shola Ameobi, to see him suspended for Sunday's League Cup final.
There were further worries for Mourinho as Duff and William Gallas left the pitch limping with injuries which make them doubts for Wednesday's Nou Camp date.
Mourinho took defeat - only the third of the season for his side - on the chin.
"I'm stupid if I say we are not sad because we lost.
"We didn't win today and we are not happy with that.
"Sometimes you are proud of your team when you win and even though we lost like we did today, I am still proud of them. The mentality was fantastic.
"We only had 10 players during 45 minutes and realistically nine when Duff got injured. The message was of a very proud team. Its not a drama because that does not exist in football.
"Newcastle were not the best team but at Stamford Bridge they were better than us for 45 minutes and we beat them 4-0."
His Newcastle counterpart Graeme Souness was understandably delighted.
"I think we got nervous after scoring the goal. They are a top team playing with all confidence in the world. It is the first time we had a 1-0 home success since I'bv been here.
"We're delighted about it and in the next round of the cup and we will get a lift from this."
The last 16 tie only went ahead following a morning pitch inspection following a herculean effort from the groundstaff to clear the playing surface of more than six inches of overnight snow.
Their efforts were particularly appreciated by John Terry, who would have served his one-match suspension against Liverpool in Cardiff had this game not gone ahead.
Newcastle repaid the sterling efforts of their army of snow-shifters by taking the lead with their first serious attack as they exploited Chelsea's aerial weakness caused by the absence of Terry.
Laurent Robert, the French winger, made the most of his first St James's Park start in almost two months by sending over an inch-perfect cross from the left after he was fed by Nicky Butt, who in turn was named in the line-up for the first time in three months following a thigh injury.
The lurking Kluivert needed no second invitation to bury his ninth goal of the season into the top corner with a sumptuous near post header from six yards, after losing his marker, Gallas.
Sir Bobby Robson, the former Newcastle manager and also Mourinho's mentor from their time together at Barcelona watched as a guest from the stands as Chelsea mounted a determined bid to draw level.
Mateja Kezman, operating as a lone forward, wasted a decent opening when he leapt in front of better-placed team-mate Glen Johnson to head tamely over from a Geremi cross.
However, the Serbian international came close to making amends when he stole in between Titus Bramble and former Chelsea defender Celestine Babayaro to meet a Tiago cross with a looping close-range effort which crashed off the underside of the bar before bouncing to safety.
Newcastle showed few signs of being able to build on their early lead as they rapidly lost the momentum afforded them by Kluivert's early strike.
And it took a fine save low to his left by Newcastle's Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given to deny midfielder Jiri Jarosik who took aim from 20 yards following a neat touch by Kezman as the hosts recorded a rare clean sheet.