Chelsea vs Newcastle match report: Oscar and Diego Costa help Blues weather storm to take advantage of Manchester City slip

Chelsea 2 Newcastle 0

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho is currently letting his players do the talking while he simmers in silence because the Football Association slapped a well- merited misconduct charge on him for impugning the honesty of referees.

Those players took a while to find their master’s voice, but eventually delivered a statement of intent as, with Manchester City held, Chelsea moved two points clear at the Premier League summit.

Outplayed for the first 40 minutes Chelsea won at a canter, goals from Oscar and Costa killing off the game with half an hour to spare.

As pleasing for Mourinho will have been the clean sheet, Chelsea having shipped five goals at White Hart Lane in their last top flight outing. There was one intriguing change to the outfield from the team humbled at Tottenham: Gary Cahill was replaced by Kurt Zouma who made his first Premier League start. Zouma may have the name and physique of a support actor in a Jean-Claude Van Damme film, but increasingly looks a very competent centre-half.

Assistant coach Steve Holland, who was deputed by Mourinho to undertake his media duties, insisted Cahill, whose form has dipped, had not been dropped. He said: “We play for nine months and are on course to play 60-odd matches. Gary played every game over the Holiday period [five in 14 days]. The club get a lot of stick for not giving young players a go, but the manager showed faith in Kurt and he was immaculate.”

In the first half it looked as if Mourinho had omitted the wrong centre-half as John Terry was made to look uncomfortable as the visitors emerged the sharper. The inspiration was Remy Cabella who metamorphised into a latter-day Jimmy Johnstone, jinking past Chelsea defenders at will. He cut in from the left in the 18th minute, weaving past opponents then curving a shot towards the far post. Terry managed to get a leg to it, and was pleased to see the ball deflect for a corner.

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Petr Cech impressed in place of Thibaut Courtois

Two minutes later Cabella tricked past a brace in the inside-right channel only to be felled by Branislav Ivanovic. Yoan Gouffran’s thunderous free-kick was parried by Petr Cech (who had replaced Thibaut Courtois as the Belgian had a hand injury). Chelsea countered but after Eden Hazard set up Costa the striker unexpectedly attempted to return the pass enabling Jack Colback to clear.

Cabella continued to look inspired and ghosted past Terry in the 32nd minute before bringing a fine save from Cech. Moussa Sissoko was next to square up and glide by the Chelsea skipper. His shot thumped against the outside of the post.

There was a sense that Newcastle would rue the missed chances. So it proved. Two minutes from the break Fabricio Coloccini gave away a corner. With the centre-half still out of position Willian took the kick quickly finding Ivanovic who cut back for Oscar. His precise shot beat the double Dutch combination of Daryl Janmaat and Tim Krul on the line.

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Oscar celebrates the opening goal

“The players switched off,” said Newcastle caretaker manager John Carver, “but when you play top players they do seem to think a bit quicker and will punish you.”

The teams headed into one of those odd half-time breaks in which the leading team gets the hairdryer. “Jose was very clear to the players what he wanted them to do,” said Holland. He wanted greater urgency with Newcastle being pressed higher up the pitch and more assertiveness in possession.

Chelsea might soon have had a penalty when Costa’s cross struck Coloccini’s arm. The referee disagreed, even after Chelsea surrounded him. Holland was loathe to pursue the issue given his boss’s impending hearing, but made it clear Chelsea felt it should have been a penalty.

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Jose Mourinho watches the action at Stamford Bridge

Just before the hour Costa made the debate academic, clinically finishing after Hazard and Oscar sublimely combined. Costa would have struck again but for a 67th-minute challenge by Vurnon Anita, then a 79th-minute clearance by Coloccini, but with Newcastle spent the two-goal cushion was ample.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta (Felip Luis, 37); Fabregas, Matic; Willian, Oscar (Ramires, 78), Hazard; Costa (Remy, 84).

Newcastle United (4-4-1-1): Krul; Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Anita, Colback, Cabella, Gouffran (Ameobi, 61); Sissoko (Riviere, 84); Perez. 

Referee: Roger East.

Man of the match: Fabregas (Chelsea)

Match rating: 7

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