Acuna: A United hero
FA Barclaycard Premiership
A Game Of Two Gaffes
Chris Macrae reports
Clarence Acuna pounced thirteen minutes
from time to earn Newcastle a deserved point at Stamford Bridge.
The Chilean ace reacted quickest when Laurent Robert fired in a
low-range strike from 25 yards, which Ed de Goey could not hold, tucking
the ball away from six yards.
None would have cheered louder than his goalkeeper, Shay Given, whose
first-half howler had gifted Chelsea the lead.
The Republic of Ireland international had allowed Boudewijn Zenden's
left-foot strike to dribble through his legs in a manner which would
have had Massimo Taibi nodding in recognition.
The contrast could not have been more marked before the kick-off with
the home side parading 26m-worth of new faces, while Newcastle had
a commensurate amount of talent on the sidelines.
However, their 10m signing Laurent Robert was one shining light for
Bobby Robson in the first-half when they were under the cosh for much of
the time, as Zenden worked his magic down the left flank.
There had appeared little danger when Chelsea worked a short corner
to the former Barcelona man, but having cut along the 18-yard line, his
scuffed left-foot strike trundled through to Given, who on bended knee
allowwed it to squirm through his legs.
De Goey was fortunate not to return the favour from Robert's
free-kick monents later, while Given partly redeemed himself with a
crackig reflex save from John Terry at point blank range.
The impressive Zenden produced one dangerous cross which Jimmy-Floyd
Hasselbaink just failed to capitalise on, then another which saw Jesper
Gronkjaer's shot deflected over.
Chelsea continued in the ascendancy at the start of the second
period, with Given saving well from Emmanuel Petit and Gianfranco Zola,
before Newcastle, without a win in 24 visits to the capital, came back
Claudio Ranieri did not endear himself to the home crowd by sending
on Slavisa Jokanovic for Zenden, and their mood duly got darker courtesy
of de Goey.
The Dutchman, standing-in for the injured Mark Bosnich, watched
Christian Bassedas tap a free-kick to Robert 25 yards out and promptly
spilled his shot, with Acuna exacting full retribution.
Petit and Hasselbaink threatened for the home side in the final
minutes but the fire had long since gone out in the Chelsea engine room.
MAN-OF-THE MATCH: Boudewijn Zenden
A fortunate goal, but no luck involved in the rest of his
wing play which will have endeared him to the Chelsea faithful.
Chelsea: de Goey, Terry (Gallas
26), Le Saux, Melchiot, Desailly, Lampard, Petit, Zenden (Jokanovic 65),
Gronkjaer, Zola, Hasselbaink.
Subs Not Used: Stanic, Gudjohnsen, Bosnich.
Booked: Melchiot, Desailly, Gallas.
Newcastle: Given, Barton,
Elliott, Dabizas, Hughes, Lee, Acuna (O'Brien 82), Bassedas (Griffin
84), Robert, Ameobi (Lua-Lua 71), Bellamy.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Quinn.
Booked: Lee, Hughes, Robert, O'Brien.
Ref: A D'Urso (Billericay).