Bramble Pricks Chelsea's Bubble  (Sky Sports)

Newcastle United 1 Chelsea 0

Shola AmeobiChampions Chelsea ended the season with consecutive defeats after crashing 1-0 to Newcastle.

Two of Chelsea's England internationals, John Terry and Frank Lampard, were rested, but Michael Owen was ominously not included in Newcastle's squad.

In his absence, Michael Chopra and Shola Ameobi were starved of service early on, but nearly capitalised on rookie keeper Lenny Pidgeley's hesitancy on two unwise back passes.

The Magpies were holding their own in midfield though, and nearly took a surprise lead when Emre Belozoglu blasted a swerving shot over the crossbar from distance.

Nolberto Solano also posed a threat with his shooting prowess, and twice had Pidgeley scrambling as he fired narrowly wide from outside the area.

However, the Peruvian was stretchered off with a nasty-looking injury after half an hour, and his departure coincided with Chelsea's best spell of the game.

Opting for an unusual three-pronged front line of Arjen Robben, Damien Duff and Joe Cole, The Blues linked up well in promising area but, without a recognised target man, struggled to create too many opportunities.

Their first good chance came when Robert Huth turned a corner goalwards, but his effort was deflected just past the post by team-mate Cole's unintentional touch.

Chelsea should have opened the scoring on the stroke of half time when Duff was released down the right, but he selfishly went for goal himself rather than passing to Cole, who was free at the back post.

Shaun Wright-Phillips was given the chance to press his England claims in the second half, and the diminutive winger almost made an immediate impact, jinking past three Newcastle defenders on the edge of the box before testing Shay Given with a left-foot drive.

The Magpies went into the game unbeaten in six, and Glenn Roeder would have been looking to extend that run in possibly his last match in charge but, despite Stephen Carr's near-miss, Chelsea continued to hold the ascendancy.

Jose Mourinho's side twice thought they had taken the lead, only to be denied by offside.

First William Gallas headed home Robben's inviting free kick, and then Wright-Phillips turned the ball in after Maniche's shot had rebounded off the post.

Somewhat against the run of play Newcastle grabbed the first goal of the game, Titus Bramble smashing his volley from six yards into the net after Amdy Faye had cleverly headed a deep corner back across goal (73).

Moments later Stephen Carr was dismissed for a reckless challenge on Lassana Diarra, compounding his bad tackle by running through and kicking the prostrate midfielder.

Celestine Babayaro was lucky not to suffer the same fate after a cynical trip on Robben, as Chelsea surged forward in pursuit of an equaliser.

The tempo remained refreshingly intense for an end-of-season encounter, even though both sides made changes late on, but Newcastle withstood everything Chelsea threw at them to clinch the three points and a top seven finish.


Newcastle United Given, Babayaro, Bramble, Carr, Moore, Emre, Faye, NZogbia, Solano (Boumsong 31), Ameobi, Chopra (Clark 77)
Subs Not Used
  Harper, Elliott, Pattison
Booked  NZogbia, Babayaro, Emre, Moore
Sent Off  Carr
Goals  Bramble 73

Chelsea  Pidgeley, Gallas, Huth (Wright-Phillips 45), Johnson, Ferreira, Carvalho (Smith 81), J. Cole, Diarra, Duff (C. Cole 45), Maniche, Robben
Subs Not Used  Mancienne
Booked  Carvalho, Gallas

Attendance  52,309

Referee  M. Riley

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