Monday, May 05, 2008

Almost over

Newcastle Utd 0 - 2 Chelsea

All good things must come to an end. So it came to pass today, as our seven match unbeaten run finally ground to a halt as we came up against a Chelsea team chasing Manure all the way to the wire.

With Abdoulaye Faye the only change to our side, returning from injury to resume his partnership in defence with Steven Taylor, it was a chance for the recent return to form to be tested against a title chasing team.

For 45 minutes, we not only contained Chelsea, but we had the better opportunities - the best falling to Owen who, after a strong run by Martins led to a scramble in the box, was presented with a golden opportunity to take the lead only for John Terry to clear off the line. At the other end, for all Chelsea were passing the ball well, Steve Harper was barely extended throughout the half.

Half time saw Smith replace Viduka, but it was Avram Grant's team talk which clearly had the most stirring impact on the match. For 13 minutes, Newcastle could barely get a touch on the ball, and when Terry's powerful header cannoned back off the crossbar it looked as though we had weathered the storm. However, a Drogba free-kick from just outside the box was cleverly flighted in, and Ballack was afforded a free header from six yards, to give the Blues the lead.

Having been resolutely pegged back, we managed to get back into the game, and with Chelsea starting to sit back, we enjoyed our best spell of the half, with Martins' pace proving a particular problem for Chelsea. However, for all his potency on the break, it was Owen who had our best chance, narrowly failing to connect with a lofted ball in and restore parity. That miss unfortunately was the end of our resistance, and shortly afterwards Malouda was able to slot home past Harper to guarantee the points for Chelsea.

For them, it ensured the title race went to the wire. For us, it showed both the scale of the journey we've been on in recent weeks, and also the work which needs to be carried out over the summer if we're to begin next season with the hope that we can seriously challenge for a place in Europe next season.

A Chelsea fan's view: Chelsea Blog

Other reports: BBC


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