In a thrilling Carling Cup third round encounter, Newcastle United sent Chelsea out of the competition with a 4-3 victory at Stamford Bridge. The star of the show for the Geordies was Shola Amoebi who netted twice in the second half, while Nicolas Anelka led the Londoners with two goals of his own. Patrick van Aanholt scored a goal on his debut while Nile Ranger and Ryan Taylor both scored in the first half for Newcastle. It was Chelsea’s first home defeat in all competitions since February 27 when Manchester City won 4-2.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti elected to rest a number of his stars ahead of the match against City on Saturday, giving run outs to a number of fringe players, though John Terry and Nicolas Anelka remained from the regular 11, while Ramires retained his place in midfield. The Italian also handed starts to youngsters Gael Kakuta, Patrick van Aanholt, and Jeffrey Bruma.
Ancelotti’s gamble seemed to pay off in the opening minutes, as Chelsea once more got off to the fast start that has been customary. Just six minutes in, Newcastle failed to clear their lines properly and the ball broke for Kakuta to square for van Aanholt with the Dutchman powering an effort that a diving Tim Krul failed to keep out.
Chelsea would continue to dominate the run of play until the 27th minute when Shane Ferguson’s cross caught the defence out and Ranger slid beyond to van Aanholt to notch the equaliser for the Magpies.
Things would get worse for the Blues minutes later when Bruma fouled Amoebi just outside the box. The newly capped Dutch international was shown a yellow card, but may have been lucky to not be sent off. Taylor punished Bruma for the mistake by powering a free kick into the top right corner sending Newcastle ahead 2-1, though serious questions could be asked about goalkeeper Ross Turnbull’s positioning of himself and his wall.
Defensive lapses continued to heap misery on the home side when just three minutes after the start of the second half, Paulo Ferreira made an errant backpass directly to Amoebi who shot beat both Alex and Turnbull for the Newcastle third.
Misery continued for Blues supporters as substitute Salomon Kalou’s Carling Cup curse continues. Injured last year in the fifth round, reducing the team to 10 men, Kalou once again found himself on the stretcher as he pulled up in the 53rd minute. Kalou’s withdrawal meant an introduction for Josh McEachran. The youngster immediately showed composure in the midfield, forcing a Tim Krul save from a 20-yard effort.
Things continued to go downhill for the Blues as Yossi Benayoun also pulled up with an injury and was forced to go off, leaving the team to play with 10 men for the rest of the match as all substitutions were made. The adversity seemed to galvanize the team and Alex rattled the post minutes later after a blocked Bruma free kick.
It was Anelka who handed Chelsea a lifeline in the 69th minute when he got on the end of a van Aanholt cutback and cleverly flicked the ball into the far corner out of the reach of Krul. Anelka stepped up the penalty spot just minutes from time after Cheik Tiote brought Alex down in the box in controversial circumstances. The Frenchman was calm and collected as he took one step, before rolling a perfectly placed shot into the bottom left corner, freezing Krul on his line.
Paulo Ferreira nearly atoned for his early mistake with the winner in the 88th minute when he volleyed an Anelka cross that sent the crossbar shaking. Amoebi took advantage of Ferreira’s poor luck seconds later as he rose above Alex and Anelka to head home a Jonas corner to win the match for Newcastle.
For Chelsea, more worrying will be the muscle injuries to both Kalou and Benayoun, and with the news that Frank Lampard has suffered a setback in his recovery from his operation, the Blues may be faced with a mini-injury crisis ahead of key games against City, Marseille, and Arsenal over the next ten days.