Newcastle United 1-2 Chelsea  (Sky Sports)

Eidur Downs Leaders With Super Show

Eidur Gudjohnsen
Gudjohnsen: Two-goal hero


Newcastle  1-2  Chelsea 
Shearer 38   Gudjohnsen 36, 45 


Two sublime first-half strikes from Eidur Gudjohnsen gave Chelsea a deserved victory at St James' Park and knocked Newcastle off the top of the Premiership on the final Saturday of the year.

Gudjohnsen's second in stoppage time ultimately proved the winner, after his opening effort on 36 minutes was cancelled out by home skipper Alan Shearer.

Newcastle - chasing a sixth straight league victory - huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser after the break, but it was Chelsea who came closest to adding to the scoring and Bobby Robson's repeated dismissals of his side's title chances may prove justified on this evidence.

Chelsea - who left out Emmanuel Petit in favour of Sam Dalla Bona in midfield - arrived at St James' Park boasting clean sheets on their last three Premiership visits but, following some gentle probing from both sides, they almost fell behind after eight minutes.

Nolberto Solano's pinpoint right wing cross was met by Craig Bellamy's firm header, but Carlo Cudicini sprang instinctively to his right to palm the ball clear.
The near-miss acted as a wake-up call for the visitors who began to impose themselves in midfield, and as Newcastle resorted to the aerial route, Chelsea's increased confidence was illustrated by a half-chance for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who could only direct Graeme Le Saux's whipped cross into Shay Given's arms.

Chelsea were enjoying the majority of possession, and on 20 minutes Given was forced to save again as Frank Lampard met Hasselbaink's cross with a tame shot.

Gudjohnsen was looking increasingly dangerous, and he broke towards goal from deep in his own half, only to watch his cross meander dangerously across the penalty box and into safer waters.

The Icelandic striker gave further warning of his attacking intent, firing across Given and just wide of the right-hand post after collecting Mario Stanic's flick-on.

And, moments after Le Saux's mazy run into the danger zone had come to nothing, Gudjohnsen broke the deadlock with a magnificent solo effort on 36 minutes.

Chesting down a pass on the halfway line, he took on and beat Andy O'Brien for pace before coolly slotting past the advancing Given.

However, within minutes a momentary lapse of concentation brought the leaders back into game courtesy of skipper Shearer's ninth goal of the season.

Terry's half-hearted challenge on Kieron Dyer - strangely subdued on his 23rd birthday - was adjudged a foul by referee Steve Roberts, and from the resulting free-kick Shearer rose unmarked to head home Solano's delivery.

But deep into injury-time, Gudjohnsen silenced the Geordie hordes with another brilliant finish.
Shearer: loses Babayaro


Le Saux's sweeping crossfield ball eluded Robbie Elliott and found Hasselbaink, who took his time before curling in an inviting cross that Gudjohnsen swept home despite the challenge of two defenders.

Robson's half-time team-talk appeared to have missed the target as Newcastle's endeavours, though spirited, foundered on the visitors' rock of a defence, marshalled superbly by the towering Gallas.

The woodwork rescued Newcastle when Shearer's defensive header cannoned off the post, and Gudjohnsen almost grabbed his hat-trick with a fierce drive that flashed across the goal.

Newcastle retaliated and Shearer tested Cudicini, driving a free-kick through the wall, but the Italian's parry was hacked clear by Gallas. Within minutes, Olivier Bernard, who gave the Magpies new options after replacing Eilliott on the hour, slung over a left-wing cross after a neat build-up and it was met full on by his captain, whose thundering header was tipped over by Cudicini.

As the Magpies threw everything forward in search of the equaliser, Chelsea poured through the gaps and Given had to parry a full-blooded drive from substitute Mikael Forssell at point-blank range.
Frank Lampard had a great chance to kill off any hopes of a home revival only to see his shot parried, but Claudio Ranieri's men hung on for the points and, inconsistent or not, enter the new year on the heels of new leaders Arsenal and bang in the title race.

Man of the Match: Eidur Gudjohnsen: The quicksilver striker's all-round class was all too evident, and capped by the decisive goals.

Newcastle: Given, Hughes, O'Brien, Distin, Elliott (Bernard 63), Solano (Lua-Lua 73), Dyer, Speed, Robert, Shearer, Bellamy.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Lee, Dabizas.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Melchiot, Gallas, Terry, Babayaro, Stanic (Jokanovic 84), Lampard, Dalla Bona, Le Saux, Hasselbaink (Zola 89), Gudjohnsen (Forssell 70).
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Keenan.
Booked: Stanic, Terry, Babayaro.
Att: 52,123

Ref: S Bennett (Kent).

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