AS the snowflakes fell on St James' Park, Newcastle United made the most of an under-strength Chelsea by booking a place in the quarter-finals and strengthening hopes of FA Cup glory for the first time in 50 years.

It was little wonder the Newcastle worked so hard on making sure yesterday's mouth-watering tie did not fall victim to the wintry weather and their determination was rewarded.

Now Chelsea, labelled The Untouchables by former Blue Celestine Babayaro at the weekend, can wave goodbye to an unprecedented quadruple and focus on their dreams of success in the Premiership, Champions League and Carling Cup.

But this was not just about Chelsea's exit, this means that Newcastle are still in the hunt for an incredible double themselves - they are also battling away in the UEFA Cup.

Newcastle, out to prove a point after the board and manager were abused by supporters in Holland last Thursday night, edged a frantic encounter courtesy of an early superb headed finish by Patrick Kluivert.

Chelsea's second team, aptly named by the manager Jose Mourinho himself, rallied but could not breakdown a stubborn defence in which Titus Bramble was outstanding.

In a pulsating encounter, which proved the romance of the FA Cup is certainly still alive, the visitors finished with nine men on the pitch and a full-back playing in goal.

Bridge was rushed to hospital with a suspected broken ankle and goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini was sent off for bringing down Shola Ameobi in injury time.

And Newcastle can boast being only the third team to beat the might of Chelsea this season, while Kluivert became only the second player to score against the Blues in 2005.

This victory should have gone a long way to boosting confidence in the Newcastle ranks and, as well as keeping Alan Shearer's chances of glory in his swansong season alive, there were signs yesterday of a Tyneside turnaround in fortunes.

Newcastle, occupying a lowly Premiership position, have now lost just one in ten games and a favourable quarter-final draw this afternoon could raise expectations of a first final since 1999.

As more snow fell, after the pitch passed a morning inspection, the temperature hit freezing but the atmosphere inside St James' was close to boiling point with the fanatical support sensing Newcastle could make the most of facing Chelsea's second string.

Mourinho, the arrogant yet likeable manager, laid his cards on the table before this game by suggesting that their Champions League clash with Barcelona on Wednesday and a Premiership title push ranked much higher than progress in the FA Cup.

So Mourinho's decision to rest his first choice XI - although Frank Lampard, Damien Duff and Eidur Gudjohnsen made the bench and appeared at the break - handed the initiative to Newcastle, fielding possibly their strongest side, from the start.

Nicky Butt and Kieron Dyer were both changes from the side that successfully overcame Heerenveen in the UEFA Cup on Thursday, while defender Jean-Alain Boumsong replaced Andy O'Brien at the heart of the defence.

But it was the recall of Robert to the left wing that pleased the supporters the most; having called for him to be reinstated after his latest substitute's role in Holland.

Both Souness and his predecessor, Sir Bobby Robson, have encountered similar problems with the Frenchman. Neither have found the solution to regularly accommodating the player on the flank through his lack of defensive work.

Nor have they ever had any gripe about Robert's undoubted ability to turn attacking positions into goals and he proved his worth again within four minutes of his return.

Right-back Stephen Carr picked out Butt sitting deep into the Chelsea half. After taking a touch to steady himself, he picked out the unmarked Robert on the wing.

The £10m man delivered a cross with pace and precision and Kluivert outjumped William Gallas at the front post to head an unstoppable header beyond Cudicini's outstretched right arm to give the home side the perfect start.

After the blistering start, courtesy of the Dutchman's first goal since December 19, Newcastle's inability to breakdown the Chelsea backline and create chances for the remainder of the half allowed the Londoners back into the tie.

But Chelsea, with Mateja Kezman operating as a lone front-man with Joe Cole just behind, found Shay Given and bad luck conspiring against them.

When Kezman exploited a gap to get in behind the Magpies defence, the Serbian turned Tiago's centre from the left over Given but the ball bounced down off the woodwork and rolled along the goalline to safety.

The striker turned provider just after the half hour mark but this time Given was equal to Jiri Jarosik's 22-yard strike, when the Irishman got down low to his left to turn away for a corner.

Nevertheless, despite Chelsea's advances, Newcastle had deserved to be in front at the interval and Souness had a number of positives to take from an encouraging opening period played in Arctic conditions.

Butt, in the middle of midfield, certainly didn't resemble a player who had not started a game since November 25. An ankle problem had plagued the England star but was an effective anchor man.

Earlier in the season Mourinho's decision to introduce Arjen Robben and Gudjohnsen from the bench led to Chelsea dumping Newcastle out of the League Cup in extra time.

But on this occasion, after choosing to bring on Gudjohnsen, Duff and Lampard at half-time, his tactics backfired only five minutes later when Bridge was stretchered off.

The former Porto boss has worked wonders at Stamford Bridge this season and the likelihood of delivering the club's first league title since 1955 remains high, but that decision should have given Newcastle the green light to take control of proceedings.

Instead, while the home fans initially expected an easier ride, Chelsea's determination to turn things around led to anxiety creeping in to the stands and onto the pitch.

Lampard, so often the hero for Chelsea this season on the goal front, was the biggest danger to Newcastle's lead. He had a long range effort well saved by Given while he also fired off beam from just inside the area.

But Newcastle defended astutely. Bramble, to blame for the goal conceded in Heerenveen, won everything that came his way and the jeers that greeted his name at the start turned to cheers by the end.

Chelsea never gave up hope of pulling level but as full-time neared Newcastle grew in confidence and could have extended their lead in injury-time.

Cudicini saw red for hauling down Ameobi as he ran through on goal, defender Johnson pulled on the keeper's jersey and Robert's's free-kick from the edge of the area was saved by the stand-in's legs.

Result: Newcastle United 1 Chelsea 0.

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