Fri, Dec 22, 2006 - Page 21 News List

Newcastle fall again to Drogba

BENCH BLAST The Ivory Coast international came on as a substitute to send Newcastle packing for the second time in eight days with a curving free kick

AP , LONDON

Late substitute Didier Drogba converted a 78th-minute free kick to give Chelsea a 1-0 win over Newcastle United on Wednesday and send the Blues into the semi-finals of the English League Cup.

Drogba's right-footed angled shot from just inside the area curved past the Newcastle defensive wall and inside the far post, deflecting in off the outstretched fingers of diving goalkeeper Shay Given three minutes after entering the game.

"I always try to give everything I can for the team, but it's very difficult to come in from the bench," Drogba said. "Frank Lampard came on and made a difference and so did Michael Ballack -- it's very important to have a strong bench for different competitions."

It was the Ivory Coast striker's 17th goal in all competitions this season.

It is the second time a late Drogba strike lifted Chelsea past Newcastle 1-0. He also scored to beat the Magpies in a league match at Stamford Bridge on Dec. 13.

In the night's other quarter-final matchup, Jermaine Defoe's extra-time winner gave Tottenham a 1-0 win over Southend at White Hart Lane.

On Tuesday, Wycombe dominated struggling side Charlton to advance to the semis with a 1-0 win, while the Liverpool-Arsenal match was postponed due to heavy fog. The match was rescheduled for Jan. 9, three days after the two sides meet in a third round FA Cup tie.

Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins almost gave Newcastle the lead in the 27th minute after beating Chelsea goalkeeper Hilario, but his shot hit the underside of the crossbar.

With Blues captain John Terry missing due to a back injury, and regular starters Lampard, Ballack, Ashley Cole and Drogba all on the bench, Andriy Shevchenko came close to giving Chelsea a first-half lead only for his strike to hit the post.

Kieron Dyer bore down alone on goal in the 60th minute only for Hilario to deny the Newcastle midfielder with a diving block.

Though bottom of the League Championship table, Southend came into its match on the heels of a 1-0 win over Premier League leaders Manchester United in the last round of the competition.

Defoe had a header punched out by Southend goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan in the 34th. On the ensuing corner kick, Flahavan saved a Mido header from inside the area to deny the hosts the lead.

Tottenham midfielder Steed Malbranque curled an effort from the edge of the area wide in the 49th before defender Paul Stalteri shot just over the crossbar with a long-range effort.

Southend's best chance came in the second half when defender Efetobore Sodje's header dropped just out of the reach of Freddy Eastwood, who was alone in front of goal.

Late substitute Dimitar Berbatov saw his header saved by Flahavan in the 89th as the match headed to extra time.

Defoe clinched the home side's first trip to a semi-final in four years after firing Mido's cross into the bottom of goal with a right-footed shot in the 115th.

The draw for the semi-finals will be held tomorrow.

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