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Chelsea choke on chance to pass Reds

Chelsea squandered a great chance to pull clear of Liverpool at the top of the Barclays Premier League as stubborn Newcastle held them to a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea dominated the game but could not find a way to break the deadlock.

Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given saved superbly from Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole went agonizingly close with a header - but Chelsea failed to capitalize on Liverpool's home draw with Fulham.

The Blues remain top on goal difference but failed to win at home for the second successive game.

Luiz Felipe Scolari's side should have taken the lead in the seventh minute but Given made a tremendous save to prevent Lampard scoring.

Florent Malouda had picked out the England midfielder with a delightful chip into the penalty area but Given guessed correctly and dived to his right to keep Lampard's header out.

In the 10th minute referee Phil Dowd lectured Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari after the Brazilian moaned too long about a free-kick decision that went against his side.

It was all Chelsea in the opening 15 minutes and when Newcastle did break Michael Owen found himself isolated and unable to get the better of the home defense.

Malouda created a fine opening in the 16th minute when he left Fabricio Coloccini flat-footed and burst into the penalty area - but Given dived low to his right to prevent the Frenchman's shot from hitting the net.

Newcastle's first attempt on goal arrived in the 20th minute through Jonas, whose right-foot volley failed to trouble Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Chelsea continued to dominate with Deco and Joe Cole pulling the strings in midfield.

In the 23rd minute, some clever work on the left flank from Nicolas Anelka ended with Branislav Ivanovic heading his cross over the bar.

Moments later John Terry and Lampard just failed to carve out an opening inside the Newcastle area but their neat passing move was eventually stopped by Coloccini.

Deco's accuracy was found wanting in the 28th minute when his right-foot shot from 25-yards fell at least a yard wide of the upright.

But the Portugal midfielder almost made up for it two minutes later but Lampard just failed to connect properly with his sublime chip into the penalty area.

In the 31st minute, Ashley Cole sent a header inches wide of the far post after a curling cross from Jose Bosingwa had beaten the United defence.

Deco supplied another quality through ball for Joe Cole two minutes later but the England international just failed to apply the finishing touch as Given raced out to save.

Seconds later it was Ivanovic's turn to miss a gilt-edged chance when a free-kick from Lampard found him unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box.

The Chelsea defender sent his header flashing beyond the far post with Given flat-footed.

Anelka was unlucky not to put Chelsea in front in the 48th minute when he got on the end of Lampard's pass but his angled drive hit the chest of Given.

Chelsea had a goal ruled out for offside in the 54th minute. Lampard's through-ball allowed Malouda to fire in a shot which Given stopped, with Joe Cole who bundling the loose ball over the line from an offside position.

A Lampard free-kick was then held by Given on the line with the crowd claiming it was a goal.

Moments later another superb move from the home side saw Joe Cole and Anelka combine to set up Lampard.

The England midfielder burst into the penalty area but curled his shot just the wrong side of the upright.

Chelsea had increased the tempo at the start of the half but United continued to frustrate the league leaders with some resolute defending.

The hosts' frustration was beginning to show as two long-range efforts from Lampard failed to hit the target.

But for all their possession, Chelsea were now being forced to try and break the deadlock with long shots.

Chelsea continued to camp in United's half but the lack of penetrating final ball was a real problem.

Substitute Ballack, on for Joe Cole, shot into the side-netting in the 89th minute as Chelsea's frustration mounted - but the hosts had to settle for a point.


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