Leicester fail the Cup test

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The Independent Online
The tensions of the Coca-Cola Cup semi-finals at Selhurst Park and the Riverside Stadium had scarcely abated when Leicester City and Middlesbrough, the clubs who prevailed at those grounds last week, kindly previewed the final at Filbert Street. Boro fans will make the trip to Wembley with confidence boosted after a 3-1 win. Leicester supporters will want to see the script rewritten, with special reference to the shackling of Juninho.

The Brazilian was a constant threat although it was one of Boro's less exotic imports, the Welsh midfielder Clayton Blackmore, who gave them the lead in nine minutes with a 25-yard drive. Sixteen minutes later, Juninho made it 2-0 when Emerson's crossfield pass picked him out and he calmly took the ball around Kevin Poole in the Leicester goal. A Juninho pass set up Mikkel Beck to make it 3-0 nine minutes before the break. Ian Marshall served up Leicester's second-half consolation with a header.

Wimbledon, Leicester's semi-final victims, also lost 3-1, at Blackburn Rovers. Vulnerability after a semi-final defeat is not a state of mind one would readily associate with the Dons but they fell behind to a Kevin Gallacher tap-in, his ninth goal of the season, when the goalkeeper Neil Sullivan dropped a simple backheader from defender Alan Kimble. Gallacher went on to score a hat-trick; Efan Ekoku scored the Dons' goal, heading in Marcus Gayle's cross.

Newcastle United will be hoping that Faustino Asprilla can repeat his performance in the 4-0 destruction of Coventry City when they visit Monte Carlo for their Uefa Cup second leg against Monaco on Tuesday in which they trail 1-0.

The Colombian's flick-on from Peter Beardsley's pass set up Steve Watson's ninth-minute opener and he was again the provider when he sent in Robert Lee for Newcastle's second on the stroke of half time. The Sky Blues second- half substitute, Brian Borrows, sent Asprilla flying and was sent off - the forward hit the post from the free-kick - and then Dion Dublin flattened him and Beardsley tucked away the penalty. Robbie Elliott added the fourth.

After six defeats in the previous nine games, Everton were happy to take anything they could from the game against Derby County at Goodison Park and a goal too near the end for comfort from Dave Watson gave them the three points.

The FA Cup semi-finalists Chelsea still hope to claim a Uefa Cup place but need to improve recent League form of two draws and two defeats in their last four games. This afternoon's visitors to Stamford Bridge, Sunderland, are just as desperate for points as they bobble above the relegation places.

The Blues manager, Ruud Gullit, can recall his midfielder Roberto di Matteo, rested for the last-minute defeat at West Ham on Wednesday, but must again do without the suspended defender Frank Leboeuf.

Sunderland, who beat Manchester United last weekend but suffered a fifth defeat in six games in midweek, could start with Paul Stewart, back in the squad after three-months out following a knee operation.

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