Newcastle United FC maintained their challenge for a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League with a crucial 2-1 victory against Chelsea FC in today’s early Premiership game.
Unexpected opening goal
Newcastle maintained their impressive home record, despite initially struggling as Chelsea largely controlled the first half. However, the home side went ahead after 31 minutes, somewhat against the run of play. Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink unwittingly broke the deadlock, beating his own goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini with a near-post header following a corner.
Chelsea deservedly drew level five minutes later, as Hasselbaink’s corner was not properly cleared by Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given and midfield player Frank Lampard volleyed an equaliser. Jesper Grønkjær then wasted a clear opportunity, electing to shoot himself with Hasselbaink well-placed, and Newcastle restored their lead seven minutes after half-time.
Hugo Viana produced a defence-splitting pass to Olivier Bernard, who lifted his shot over Cudicini. Chelsea could still have taken a point from the game, but Lampard’s header was well-saved by Given. The win moved Newcastle level on points with second-placed Manchester United FC, who face Liverpool FC in the League Cup final tomorrow, while leaders Arsenal FC are in league action against Charlton Athletic FC.
In Saturday’s later games, struggling West Ham United FC boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation with a second successive win. Goals in either half from Les Ferdinand and Michael Carrick secured a vital 2-0 home victory against Tottenham Hotspur FC.
Ferndinand opened the scoring after 33 minutes against the club he left in January, scoring from a tight angle after Jermain Defoe had created the shooting opportunity. Carrick doubled the lead two minutes after half-time, striking after Tottenham goalkeeper Kasey Keller had failed to gather a corner.
However, bottom side Sunderland AFC look doomed to relegation, slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Fulham FC, with Louis Saha scoring the only goal of the game five minutes before full-time. Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion FC also slumped deeper into trouble with a 1-0 defeat at Southampton FC. James Beattie’s eight-minute goal, his 19th of the season, proved enough for the home side.
Elsewhere, Middlesbrough FC welcomed back Brazilian midfield player Juninho Paulista after a seven-month absence, and the 2002 FIFA World Cup winner made a goalscoring return, rounding off a fine passing move involving Michael Ricketts and Massimo Maccarone to make the score 1-1 16 minutes from time. Defender Steve Watson had put Everton FC in front after 23 minutes with his fifth goal in seven games.
The game between Blackburn Rovers FC and Manchester City FC also ended 1-0, with David Dunn’s 13th-minute header separating the two sides and earning all three points for Blackburn.
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