Newcastle oust Chelsea

Associated Press

London, February 21:

Chelsea’s quest to win four major titles ended on Sunday when Newcastle ousted the understrength Blues from the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory at St James’ Park.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho gambled and came up short in the fifth-round game, losing only his third match since taking over the Blues last summer.

Mourinho started with seven regulars on the bench, hoping to save them for Wednesday’s high-profile Champions League match at FC Barcelona.

Mourniho’s strategy went wrong in the fourth minute when Patrick Kluivert gave the Magpies a quick lead, heading in a cross from eight yards to the right of diving goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini.

Chelsea leads the Premier League by nine points, goes in as a slight favourite against Barcelona, and plays next weekend in the League Cup final against Liverpool. Sunday’s two other fifth-round matches ended in draws, forcing replays: Burnley 0, Blackburn 0; and Tottenham 1, Nottingham Forest 1.

In Saturday’s fifth-round results, it was: Arsenal 1, Sheffield United 1; Bolton 1, Fulham 0; Charlton 1, Leicester 2; Everton 0, Manchester United 2; and Southampton 2, Brentford 2. The draw for the quarter-finals is on Monday night with play beginning from March 12.

Spanish La Liga:

MADRID: Brazilian midfielder Marcos Assuncao scored two goals to lead Real Betis over Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 and into third place in the Spanish league.

Defending champion Valencia missed a chance to overtake Betis later when Uruguayan forward Mario Regueiro scored to give lowly Santander a 1-0 win.

In another 24th-round game, Espanyol’s hopes of playing in next season’s Champions League suffered a blow with a 3-2 defeat at Malaga. Also, Getafe drew 0-0 with Osasuna, Levante drew 0-0 with Zaragoza, and Numancia edged Albacete 2-1.

In a late match, Uruguay striker Diego Forlan scored his 15th goal of the season to help Villarreal overturn a two-goal deficit and beat Atletico Madrid 3-2.

Barcelona leads with 57 points from 24 matches, while Madrid has 50 points. Betis is next with 41 points, ahead of Sevilla on goal difference. Villarreal is fifth with 40 points, two more than Valencia and Espanyol.