Kharine shoots Chelsea in foot
FROM Russia with gloves but, sadly for Chelsea, not a kicking foot. In the three years Dmitri Kharine has been at Stamford Bridge he has built a reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premiership. His footwork, however, has often looked suspect and yesterday Chelsea paid the penalty
Having taken the lead after 35 minutes when Mark Hughes finished a beautifully worked move, Chelsea were three minutes into injury time with a foot in the fourth round when Kharine took a routine goal kick.
He could have put it anywhere from row A to row Z, but he should certainly have aimed for the flanks. Instead, he weakly punted down the middle to Philippe Albert. The Belgian carefully headed the ball back over Chelsea's defence. Les Ferdinand escaped from Michael Duberry for the first time in the match and, as Kharine recklessly raced from his goal, slipped the ball between his legs.
Newcastle exulted as heads sunk into blue sleeved arms all over Stamford Bridge. They will meet again, on Wednesday week, for the right to visit Queen's Park Rangers in the fourth round.
Chelsea dominated this English FA Cup third round tie only being forced back in the closing stages as Newcastle desperately tried to salvage a draw. Even then they defended magnificently with Duberry, who is beginning to look the find of the season out standing.
Chelsea's latest injury crisis had claimed Ruud Gullit but, with Terry Phelan recovered, they fielded the same team which had defeated Newcastle here last month.
Newcastle, outmanoeuvred that day, had changed style and personnel since. They played the same XI which defeated Arsenal last week to go seven points clear in the Premiership. That meant Albert making a third central defender, with Warren Barton and Robbie Elliott playing as wing backs. It had worked against Arsenal, but not yesterday. Not only did Barton and Elliott fail to push forward, but Dan Petrescu and Phelan were able to exploit the space behind them.
With Eddie Newton anchoring the midfield and Dennis Wise pulling the strings, Newcastle looked bereft of leadership as well as width. They had passion, but it was ill directed. Four players were booked and a fifth, Peter Beardsley, should have been.
Paul Furlong was first to test the Newcastle defence, shooting wide after 10 minutes and going close after 23. Twelve minutes later Wise played a perceptive reverse pass to Phelan on the left, he floated a cross from the by line and Hughes, having dummied Albert with a near post run, headed in at the far post.
It was almost half time before Newcastle managed a response. It was a spectacular one, Albert half volleying against the post from 30 yards. As Newcastle gradually took over, Duberry made a series of splendid tackles and it looked as if Chelsea had done enough. Then came Kharine's moment of madness.