Kalou strike sinks Newcastle
'Offside' goal shatters Toon after battling display
Last Updated: 29/12/07 9:15pm
Salomon Kalou's controversial late winner gave Chelsea all three points against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge.
Kalou appeared a yard offside when he latched onto Michael Essien's deflected shot and prodded the ball past the excellent Shay Given.
Essien had earlier put Chelsea ahead with a similar strike, before a scruffy own goal from Wayne Bridge drew Newcastle level.
The visitors had chances to win the game as they battled to salvage their reputations after a dismal festive period, before Kalou stole in to win the points five minutes from time.
Chelsea's late goal also spared the blushes of coach Avram Grant, who was targeted by the boo-boys after making seven changes to his starting line-up and some surprising second-half substitutions.
The home side should have taken the lead in the 10th minute but Michael Ballack, captain for the first time in his Blues career, skied his shot high into the crowd after good work by Essien and Shaun Wright-Phillips had carved out the chance on the edge of the penalty area.
In the 14th minute, it was Chelsea's turn to survive a real scare when Butt found Obafemi Martins but the Newcastle striker delayed his shot and he allowed Alex to get back in time to deal with the danger.
Four minutes later Newcastle were thankful to Given for keeping them on level terms. The United goalkeeper was forced to punch the ball to safety after Juliano Belletti's cross had found Kalou in space in the penalty area.
The Ivory Coast striker helped Given to pull off a fine save by firing his shot straight at him.
It took an even better save from Given to keep the home side out seconds later.
Mikel John Obi danced past two challenges on the edge of the penalty before hitting a shot that deflected off Butt.
The ball appeared to have looped over Given but the United keeper somehow twisted his body before pushing the ball away with his right hand.
Alex headed straight at Given in the 27th minute after rising highest to meet Belletti's inswinging free-kick.
A long throw-in on the right flank found its way across to the left where an unmarked Wright-Phillips scuffed a shot that rebounded off Kalou and into the path of Essien.
The Ghanaian international was just six yards out when the ball rolled to him and despite a despairing lunge by Steven Taylor and a late reaction by Claudio Cacapa, the Chelsea midfielder had the simple task of rolling the ball beyond a stranded Given for the 29th-minute opener.
Chelsea should have added a second but a fine clearance by Butt prevented Kalou from getting on the end of a cross from Wright-Phillips.
Wright-Phillips then sent a header wide of the target at the far post after Joe Cole's curling cross had found him unmarked.
Chelsea almost had a second straight from the re-start when Given was forced to make a flying save to keep out a clearance from team-mate Butt.
The Newcastle midfielder was racing back to cut out a cross from Wright-Phillips when he inadvertently sent the ball hurtling toward the roof of his own net.
United were level in the 55th minute thanks to Butt. Charles N'Zogbia got the better of Mikel on the left flank and pulled the ball back for Butt to scramble home past Wayne Bridge at the second attempt.
Seconds later Chelsea could have restored their advantage when a cross from Wright-Phillips was headed goal wards by Kalou only for the impressive Given to save.
Ballack then squandered another cross from Wright-Phillips by side-footing the ball straight at the United keeper from the edge of the penalty area.
Chelsea were now facing the prospect of their second home draw of the festive period and the fans left Grant in no doubt as to their feelings when he replaced Cole with Pizarro in the 65th minute.More chants and boos followed when Ballack was replaced by Scott Sinclair but Kalou spared more agony for Grant by popping up with the decider in the 87th minute.
|Chelsea||Team Statistics||Newcastle United|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||1|
|7||Shots off Target||3|
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Ham United||2||3|
|12||West Bromwich Albion||2||2|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||2||0|