English Premiership

Newcastle snatch late draw

2011-05-15 16:48
Nicolas Anelka and Steven Taylor (Associated Press)
London - Chelsea's miserable weekend went from bad to worse when they conceded an injury-time goal to draw 2-2 at home to midtable Newcastle on Sunday, 24 hours after relinquishing their Premier League title to Manchester United.

In what could prove to be manager Carlo Ancelotti's final match in charge of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Newcastle center back Steven Taylor met a nod-down by Nile Ranger to head a finish into the corner two minutes into stoppage time.

Brazil defender Alex looked to have given Chelsea three points, which would have virtually sealed second place behind new champions United, when he headed home Frank Lampard's deep free kick in the 83rd minute.

Argentina midfielder Jonas Gutierrez had canceled out Branislav Ivanovic's second-minute opener for the deposed champions by deflecting in Ryan Taylor's free kick in the 10th.

Ancelotti, who won the league and FA Cup double last season in his first year in charge, acknowledged his future is up in the air after failing to land any silverware in his second campaign in charge. That future is dependent on the whims of billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich, who was in the stands to watch his side's final home game. He will not be impressed.

With one eye on next season, Ancelotti gave a start in midfield to Josh McEachran - an England Under-21 player tipped for a bright future with club and country - and tried a new-look forward line comprising Fernando Torres, Yossi Benayoun and Nicolas Anelka.

But after a strong opening to the match, which saw Ivanovic bundle in a finish off his thigh from close range after Torres flicked on Lampard's corner, Chelsea looked more and more like a team of strangers.

Newcastle's equaliser had more than a hint of good fortune about it - Gutierrez knew nothing about the deflection off the side of his right leg that wrongfooted Cech, but the visitors regularly threatened on the counterattack. Young Northern Ireland winger Shane Ferguson, handed a rare start by manager Alan Pardew, impressed with constant forays down the left.

Torres, stuck on a solitary goal for his new club since a January move from Liverpool for £50 million, cut an increasingly forlorn and frustrated figure up front and the first half ended with the Blues struggling to create any clear-cut chances.

Gutierrez had a powerful shot saved by Cech in the 59th and it was only when Ancelotti threw on striker Didier Drogba and winger Florent Malouda in the 61st to partner the laboring Torres in attack that Chelsea finally found some hustle going forward.

Ashley Cole running onto a cushioned layoff by Drogba in the 75th, chose to square the ball when a shot seemed more obvious and John Terry headed over moments later.

It was Terry's partner at center back, Alex, who popped up with what looked like the winner before Taylor denied the hosts with just a minute left.

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