The Day Bramble Sent Chelsea Home Pointless!
NEWCASTLE: Harper, Beye, Taylor, Faye, Jose Enrique (N'Zogbia 77), Geremi (Duff 71), Butt, Barton, Viduka (Smith 46), Owen, Martins.
Subs Not Used: Forster, Cacapa.
CHELSEA: Cech, Ferreira, Terry, Carvalho (Alex 79), Bridge, Essien, Obi, Ballack, Anelka (Lampard 66), Drogba (Shevchenko 86), Malouda.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Joe Cole.
Michael Ballack was again Chelsea's hero as the Londoners took the Barclays Premier League title race down the final game of the season after a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United on Monday.
The German, whose double against Manchester United last week took them level with their rivals at the top, broke a stubborn Newcastle with a crucial 60th-minute opener at St James' Park.
But it was not until Florent Malouda added a second eight minutes from time that the points were safe as the spirited Magpies did their best to preserve a seven-game unbeaten run.
They had needed the help of the crossbar to keep out John Terry's 53rd-minute header, but had it not been for the Chelsea skipper's goalline clearance 16 minutes before the break, Michael Owen would have fired the home side ahead.
Newcastle had their chances to level as time ran down with Obafemi Martins seeing his blistering effort deflected just wide by Ricardo Carvalho.
However, Chelsea's class was ultimately made to tell on a day when Kevin Keegan was given the best illustration yet of how far his side has to go to compete an a level playing field with the big boys.
Avram Grant's men head into next weekend's clash with Bolton knowing victory might not be enough to lift the trophy if United win at Wigan, because of their inferior goal difference, but they have a chance.
It was perhaps testament to the turnaround in fortunes engineered by Keegan on Tyneside that his opposite number opted to change formation as well as personnel in the search for three points.
Out went Ashley Cole, Claude Makelele, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, and Salomon Kalou from the side which clinched a place in the Champions League final and in, among others, came Malouda and Nicolas Anelka.
They were deployed in a three-pronged front line either side of Didier Drogba, but such was the tenacity with which the Magpies defended, none of the trio managed to put pressure on goalkeeper Steve Harper.
Indeed, their best chance of the first half fell to Ballack 10 minutes before the break when he ran onto Michael Essien's measured pass, but sliced a left-foot shot harmlessly wide.
In fact, most of the half's better chances fell to Newcastle, who perhaps made more of a lesser share of the possession.
Owen left England team-mate Terry for dead with just six minutes gone to collect the imperious Nicky Butt's pass, but lifted his first-time effort over Petr Cech's crossbar.
But with Martins making life intensely difficult for Paulo Ferreira down the Chelsea right, the Magpies threatened repeatedly and might have taken the lead with 29 minutes gone.
The Nigerian controlled a high ball superbly on his chest for Mark Viduka to stab in a shot which Cech saved, but the rebound seemed to fall invitingly to Owen.
The £17million man steered his shot firmly towards goal but Terry was in exactly the right place at the right time to save his side.
Chelsea responded by pinning Newcastle back inside their own half, but Harper was able to watch long-range efforts from Anelka and Mikel John Obi sail wide of the target, and it was the Magpies who finished the first half the stronger.
Viduka's failure to re-appear after the break - he is due to have an injection for a persistent Achilles problem - prompted Alan Smith's introduction, but it was the visitors who went close when Carvalho headed Malouda's 50th-minute corner wide.
However, Terry went much closer three minutes later as Chelsea started to turn the screw.
Malouda was the provider once again with another right-wing corner, and this time his captain climbed highest to thunder a header against the bar as Newcastle enjoyed a huge slice of good fortune.
But they finally fell behind on the hour when Ballack met Drogba's free-kick unmarked in front of goal to glance home a close-range header.
Lampard replaced Anelka with 24 minutes remaining as Grant adopted his more accustomed 4-4-2 formation, but it was Newcastle who almost hit back as the game entered its final 20 minutes.
First Martins saw Carvalho deflect his shot inches wide with Cech stranded, and then Owen only just failed to connect with Butt's mishit effort in front of goal.
Harper pulled off a smart reaction save to deny Ballack from distance and the game was anything but over.
However, Malouda's neat finish from Lampard's 82nd-minute pass cemented the win as Newcastle's resistance was finally broken.
2006/7 NEWCASTLE 0 CHELSEA 0
NEWCASTLE: Harper, Solano, Bramble, Taylor, Carr, Milner, Butt, Dyer, Emre, Sibierski (Carroll 78), Martins.
Subs Not Used: Srnicek, N'Zogbia, Ramage, Babayaro.
CHELSEA: Cech, Ferreira, Essien, Terry, Bridge, Wright-Phillips (Joe Cole 55), Makelele (Shevchenko 76), Lampard, Ballack (Mikel 18), Drogba, Kalou.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Boulahrouz.
Newcastle tipped the title race back into Manchester United's favour after they held Chelsea to a goalless draw at St James' Park.
A day after derby rivals Middlesbrough had opened the door for the reigning champions, the Magpies slammed it shut to leave United three points clear at the top.
Glenn Roeder's side were more than good value for their point after limiting the Blues to only one effort on target, and that 10 minutes from time.
However, Jose Mourinho's side may live to regret misses from Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou and at the end, substitute Joe Cole, as they rallied after the break but could not extend their run of nine successive Barclays Premiership victories.
But things could have been even worse for Chelsea had goalkeeper Petr Cech not got down to block Kieron Dyer's 59th-minute shot, and the Magpies left the field to warm applause from a crowd of 52,056 after a second successive home draw against one of the top-four sides.
Chelsea arrived on Tyneside knowing victory would take them to within a point of United a day after they were held 1-1 at Old Trafford by the Magpies' derby rivals Middlesbrough.
However, they did so knowing that was something they had not managed to achieve in the league at St James' Park in four visits.
Newcastle have had an intensely frustrating capacity this season to save their best for the Premiership's big guns, and having taken all three points from Liverpool and one apiece from United and Arsenal already, they were determined to extend that record.
For 45 minutes, they looked more than capable as Roeder's men made the double champions look distinctly ordinary and limited them to two attempts on goal, neither of which troubled goalkeeper Steve Harper.
John Terry's wayward 36th-minute header and a wild long-range striker from full-back Wayne Bridge on the stroke of half-time were as near as the Blues, who lost Michael Ballack to injury after just 18 minutes, came to calling Harper into action.
That was due in the main to a spirited display from the Magpies, for whom captain Nicky Butt was tenacious in midfield and central defender Steven Taylor little short of faultless as he marshalled Didier Drogba to such an extent that the striker started to lose his composure as the game wore on.
For their part, Newcastle created few genuine chances, but always looked the more likely scorers.
Antoine Sibierski caused problems for both Cech and full-back Paulo Ferreira with a second-minute header, while Dyer saw a shot deflected wide eight minutes later.
Obafemi Martins went close with another effort which flew behind off a Chelsea leg and then whistled a 25-yard drive past the post with the home fans sensing an opportunity to have a major say in the destination of the title.
However, Chelsea returned in determined mood and had two opportunities to take the lead within three minutes of the restart.
Lampard shot over in the 47th minute after Kalou had twisted his way past Solano and Titus Bramble to lay the ball back into his path.
Kalou caused problems again seconds later to pick out Shaun Wright-Phillips, but when he pulled the ball square for Drogba, his attempt to curl a shot into the top corner was woefully high and wide.
Mourinho replaced Wright-Phillips with Cole on 55 minutes, but the Magpies went close four minutes later.
Dyer was given the benefit of a marginal offside decision to run on to Butt's through-ball, but Cech made a vital block.
Martins headed over from Milner's corner, but the drama switched swiftly to the other end when Cole found himself in space on the left on 62 minutes.
Lampard's effort from his low cross was blocked and Kalou miskicked as he slid in, allowing Butt to tidy up.
Sibierski headed over from Milner's cross two minutes later, but it was Chelsea, aided by the arrival of substitute Andrei Shevchenko, who finished stronger.
They got their first attempt on target when Drogba flicked in a header at the near post, but Harper was equal to the task.
Martins headed over from a Milner cross and substitute Andy Carroll blasted across the face of goal in injury-time.
However, Cole might have snatched victory in the final seconds when he got a touch on Paulo Ferreira's cross, only to see his effort spin agonisingly wide of the far post.
2005/6 NEWCASTLE 1 CHELSEA 0
NEWCASTLE: Given, Carr, Bramble, Moore, Babayaro, Solano (Boumsong 31), Faye, Emre, N'Zogbia, Chopra (Clark 77), Ameobi.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Elliott, Pattison.
Titus Bramble fired Newcastle into the Intertoto Cup as Newcastle enjoyed a season's good fortune inside 90 minutes to defeat champions Chelsea.
The former Ipswich defender's 73rd-minute volley clinched three points and seventh place ahead of Bolton after his side were forced to play the last 15 minutes of an eventful campaign with 10 men following Stephen Carr's dismissal.
But the champions had two second-half goals disallowed and saw Celestine Babayaro escape with a booking for a cynical trip on Arjen Robben as they slipped to a third defeat in four games.
Michael Owen's absence from the 16 was as disappointing for caretaker boss Glenn Roeder as it will have been for England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, but he got his reward with a fifth victory in six games.
The visitors were dealt a blow even before a ball had been kicked when stand-in captain Carlo Cudicini appeared to turn an ankle during the warm-up and was helped from the field as Lenny Pidgeley got his chance in goal with William Gallas taking over the armband.
As a result, Jose Mourinho's team-sheet had an even more unfamiliar look about it with Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, Didier Drogba and Hernan Crespo all missing.
However, with Joe Cole, Damien Duff and Robben in the starting line-up, it was a side which still boasted quality and experience.
If Bolton boss Sam Allardyce, whose side were going head to head with Newcastle for the Intertoto Cup place, had feared Chelsea may have been too relaxed, there was little evidence of it in the opening 45 minutes as the champions set about their task with relish despite knowing there was little more than pride at stake for them.
But if anything, the Magpies just about shaded the opening 45 minutes despite losing midfielder Nolberto Solano with a shin injury, his departure sparking a major reshuffle as Jean-Alain Boumsong was introduced into a three-man defence.
Having seen Robben shoot wide with less than a minute gone, Emre, back from a groin injury, whistled a long-range effort just over.
Pidgeley was to endure an uncomfortable opening to the game with Michael Chopra almost stealing in after he miscontrolled a Cole back-pass and Solano sending a 17th-minute free-kick inches wide.
French midfielder Charles N'Zogbia was causing all kinds of problems for right-back Glen Johnson, although too often did not make the most of the excellent positions he got himself into by misdirecting a series of crosses.
Solano departed on a stretcher to warm applause after a collision with Ricardo Carvalho as he went for goal with an acrobatic overhead kick.
However, in the meantime, his side had survived a major scare when Robert Huth's shot from a Duff corner clipped Joe Cole and ran just wide.
Duff should really have put the visitors ahead four minutes before the break when he was played in down the right, but his low shot was well saved by Republic of Ireland team-mate Shay Given.
And it was Newcastle who almost snatched a half-time advantage three minutes later when Chopra got a glimpse of goal, only for Gallas to make a timely interception.
Mourinho made two changes at the break when he withdrew defender Robert Huth and Duff and sent on Shaun Wright-Phillips and Carlton Cole, switching to a 4-5-1 formation to accommodate the newcomers.
Wright-Phillips had an immediate impact, sending in a dangerous 50th-minute cross and then forcing a good save from Given at his near post two minutes later.
Carr drove a long-range effort just wide after 56 minutes having been set up by Shola Ameobi, but it was at the other end that the home side's luck held.
Babayaro was desperately fortunate to see yellow rather than red on the hour after he cynically tripped Robben on his way towards goal, and there was more to come.
Joe Cole got the slightest of flicks to Robben's 63rd-minute cross and Gallas gleefully headed it into the empty net at the far post, only for an offside flag to hand Newcastle a reprieve.
The same assistant referee got the Magpies off the hook again six minutes later when Wright-Phillips fired home after Maniche's shot had come back off the post with Given beaten.
And when the first goal arrived, it did so at the other end, Amady Faye heading an Emre corner back across the area for Bramble to volley sweetly home.
Carr's 75th-minute dismissal for, in referee Mike Riley's opinion, a stamp on midfielder Lassana Diarra, provided a further twist, and as time ran down to an agonising conclusion, Tyneside collectively held its breath.
Pidgeley's injury-time save from Charles N'Zogbia denied the home side a more comfortable end to their season, but the final whistle brought rapturous celebrations and some tangible reward for the efforts of Roeder and his players.