Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson blamed referee Paul Durkin's decision to send off defender Andy O'Brien for their 5-0 defeat at Chelsea.
O'Brien was dismissed shortly before half-time after he appeared to pull down Adrian Mutu outside the box.
Durkin also awarded Chelsea a penalty that Frank Lampard tucked away to put the home side three goals ahead at Stamford Bridge and effectively ended the Magpies' hopes.
"We actually got off to a bright start with an extra man in midfield and created a few chances," Robson said.
"All that was kyboshed when Andy O'Brien got sent off. The lad is unhappy because Mutu overran the ball, it was outside the box and it wasn't a penalty - so we got a rough decision.
"They got a penalty and we were reduced to 10 men so it was a double blow and it killed the game for us. It cost us the match basically.
"It was 3-0 at half-time and we were down to 10 men against a vibrant Chelsea side that was full of talent and full of running.
"They played in Europe on Tuesday and we played on Thursday so they had two days more rest than us and we had to travel as well - but I'm not making excuses.
"We did really well with 10 men at the start of the second half
and for a long, long time we fought with honour.
"But then Shay didn't kick a very good ball straight at Damien Duff and we were 4-0 down.
"The fifth goal was poor marking - I'm not sure where my centre-halves were. I think they were sat with me in the stands."
Newcastle's hopes of a rare win at Stamford Bridge were hit shortly before kick-off when Alan Shearer was ruled out with a throat problem.
And Robson added: "It doesn't help that we lost Alan at midday - he was feeling rough and it was the sensible decision to leave him out.
"It was a miserable afternoon for us. We were full of optimism here after the game in midweek.
"We thought it might be the day when we turn them over but hands up they were the better side."