Chelsea strike late to finally see off stubborn Newcastle

Newcastle 1-2 Chelsea: An Eden Hazard penalty and a Deandre Yedlin own goal gave Maurizio Sarri a third league win

Martin Hardy
St James' Park
@mhardysport
Sunday 26 August 2018 17:46
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Chelsea 2018/19 Premier League profile

The drama came late, and it was about as unexpected as you will find, but in 15 minutes completely out of keeping with everything that had gone before, there was a controversial penalty, a dramatic equaliser and then an own-goal that seemed to puncture much more than just the scoreline.

Chelsea had gone joint top of the Premier League by the time it was all finished, after they had finally pierced the shackles of a 10-man black and white blanket.

Jamie Redknapp had said at half-time that “it’s not football”, at which point the Chelsea midfielder Jorginho had made more passes than the entire Newcastle team.

The possession told you of a familiar conflict, the internal one at St James’ Park - a tiring battle about money, ambition and recruitment policy - with Maurizio Sarri’s side dominating for more then 80 per cent of the action.

Graeme Souness would say on television that it was the performance of a team playing away from home in Europe from Rafa Benitez and his side.

“I think they’re getting away with it because there is so much-ill feeling towards the owner here, and the manager is, I think, playing on that fact somewhat,” he said. “It’s a brand of football that doesn’t excite.”

That would not change until 13 minutes remained, when Marcos Alonso made a run to spear the human blockade that had met Chelsea all afternoon, after travelling north. He found joy and penetrated a back five, and in truth, often a back ten, and when he was on the wrong side of the defender Fabian Schar, making his debut for the home side, there was a problem.

Hazard slotted home from the penalty spot

Schar was substituted in the 79th minute, and he was still remonstrating with Paul Tierney, the referee, who decided his lunge to get the ball, which looked successful, had still carried force enough to bring the player down and win a penalty in a tangle of legs with.

It ended with Eden Hazard calmly stroking the penalty past the despairing right hand of Martin Dubravka. It was just about the first meaningful shot on target in the afternoon. It felt the start and most likely the finish of any scoring, but the game then burst into life.

Joselu’s introduction on another troubled afternoon at St James’ Park, was met with, at best, inertia, like the bloke nobody expected to turn up at the party after a half invite.

Joselu grabbed an unlikely equaliser

He replaced Salomon Rondon, who will know now the size of his task and the number nine shirt he must fill. It was a tireless afternoon for the Venezuelan forward, who was isolated and started of service. There was one genuine chance that came his way, in the 34th minute when a corner was cleared only to Federico Fernandez and his inswinging cross from the left found the unmarked Rondon. There was power in his downward header but it went wide.

When he was substituted, it felt like an end, but then Newcastle, finally forced to shake off the defensive shackles following Hazard’s penalty, changed style and it saw DeAndre Yedlin, challenge for an aerial ball with the substitute Olivier Giroud. Giroud was left grounded but the game continued and Yedlin whipped over a fine cross and Joselu showed real intent and speed to get to the ball ahead of David Luiz and power a header that Kepa Arrizabalaga could only help into this goal.

It was the 86th minute and finally there was something for the home support to grasp and celebrate.

Yedlin's own goal saw Chelsea take all three points 

Those celebrations had barely finished when a deep free-kick from the visitors was headed back to Alonso. He drove the ball low, and his effort was heading wide, although Ross Barkley was lurking at the post. Perhaps that presence forced Yedlin to attempt a clearance that he ended up toe poking past his own goalkeeper.

It was the 87th minute then. The game’s drama had ended.

Chelsea began the day denying they were for sale. A section of Newcastle’s supporters has started theirs outside the owner Mike Ashley’s shop in Northumberland Street.

It emphasised the size of victory.

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