Cudicini accepts Cup final ban

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The Independent Online

Chelsea have abandoned their attempt to free their second-choice goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini to play in Sunday's Carling Cup final against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Chelsea have abandoned their attempt to free their second-choice goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini to play in Sunday's Carling Cup final against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Cudicini was sent off in injury time during Chelsea's 1-0 FA Cup fifth-round defeat at Newcastle United on Sunday for bringing down Shola Ameobi on the edge of the penalty area when the striker was clean through on goal. The dismissal incurred an immediate one-match ban, ruling Cudicini out of Chelsea's next domestic match, which is Sunday's League Cup final.

The referee Mark Halsey had deemed Cudicini to have "denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity", although television replays indicated that Ameobi was heading away from goal when he was fouled. The Premier League leaders had said on Monday that they planned to appeal, but the Football Association said in a statement yesterday that the club had withdrawn the appeal.

The Italian had been promised he would play in Sunday's final by the Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho. Cudicini kept a club record 24 clean sheets last season, but Petr Cech has established himself as first choice since moving to the club in the summer of 2004.

The Czech Republic international has set a new Premiership record of 961 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal. But Mourinho has used Cudicini regularly in the Carling Cup, and the Italian has only let in one goal in his four Cup appearances.

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