Tue, Apr 24, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Magpies hold Blues to scoreless draw at St. James Park

AP , LONDON

Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper, left, saves a shot by Chelsea's Solomon Kalou during their English Premiership soccer match at St. James Park in Newcastle, England, on Sunday. The match ended in a scoreless draw.

PHOTO: EPA

Chelsea was held to a 0-0 draw at Newcastle on Sunday, missing a chance to close the gap on Premier League leader Manchester United.

Joe Cole had Chelsea's best chance in injury time when he flicked a cross from Paulo Ferreira wide.

Chelsea, bidding for a third straight Premier League title, had hoped to capitalize on United's 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday. With four rounds remaining, Chelsea has 79 points -- three behind United.

"If you ask if Chelsea deserved to win this game, I don't think so," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said.

"Newcastle were fresher and were dangerous on the counter attack," he said.

Chelsea hosts United on May 9 in a match which could determine the title.

"We are in a position to fight for the Premiership," Mourinho said. "One win is not a lot."

Chelsea had several chances at St. James' Park but failed to get a single shot on target.

In the 36th, captain John Terry sent a glancing header wide from Frank Lampard's free kick and Lampard shot high over the bar in the 47th after being set up by Salomon Kalou.

The introduction of Andriy Shevchenko in the 75th couldn't force a goal and Newcastle looked more likely to score for most of the match.

Antoine Sibierski came close with a looping header in the second minute. Obafemi Martins watched as his shot deflected wide in the 16th minute.

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech produced a good save at close range in the 59th to deny Kieron Dyer from Nick Butt's deep pass.

Chelsea lost Michael Ballack in 19th when he was substituted after struggling to recover from Titus Bramble's challenge.

Chelsea had two penalty claims dismissed by referee Mark Halsey.

As the title race enters its final phase, Mourinho has accused referees of favoring United. A late penalty wasn't awarded on Saturday when John O'Shea brought down Lee Dong-Gook, ensuring the Red Devils got the draw.

"One rule is not to allow penalties against Man United and another says none in favor of Chelsea," Mourinho said. "You are speaking about big decisions which affect points."

Chelsea would be level on points with United if the penalties had been awarded and converted.

"I have the right to speak," Mourinho said. "I think nobody can punish me because I speak the truth and I am not saying the referees are not honest. "

Also on Sunday, Portsmouth edged closer to a UEFA Cup berth with a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa.

The result ensured Portsmouth goalkeeper David James kept his 142nd shutout, beating David Seaman's previous Premier League mark.

Seaman retired in 2004 after playing for Arsenal and Manchester City in the Premier League.

"It's been a constant question for the last few weeks, people picking up on silly goals that have gone in, but I'm delighted," James said.

James was kept busy against his former club, producing an impressive save in the sixth minute to stop a strike from Craig Gardner and blocking a fierce shot from Gabriel Agbonlahor in the 64th.

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