It is five wins in a row for Chelsea with Marcos Alonso’s first goal of the season ending Newcastle’s resistance which had held out until the final 20 minutes at Stamford Bridge.
After a first half lacking in major incident to the degree that the referee being struck in the face and falling over was one of the high points for the crowd, Chelsea stepped our play up a couple of gears after half-time and our second-half performance deserved all three points, having overcome a Newcastle side which had made it tough by keeping plenty of players behind the ball and denying the Blues much space.
Willian had gone close with a header and Mason Mount had a good shot saved before the interval but it was in the second half that we stretched the Geordies and managed to get Tammy Abraham into the game. Our topscorer was not able to hit the target today although he did strike the crossbar and went close with another couple of efforts, and after Alonso had scored with a firm low shot, substitute Christian Pulisic was denied by a high-class save from Martin Dubravka who was busy in the second half.
In contrast, Kepa was only given work to do after Newcastle had gone behind and he collected his second clean sheet of the season.
After an international break, it is often hard to play smoothly straightaway, and it took some time to find our groove today, but we did it in the end and now move into the top four in the Premier League table ahead of the later games.
Frank Lampard made only one change to his line-up from the team that started at Southampton a distant two weeks ago and that was enforced by N’Golo Kante’s injury while away on international duty. Ross Barkley came in although he did not last the first half.
There was no surprise to see Newcastle unchanged, the Magpies having managed a big win against Manchester United last time out.
They started this game pretty well too, certainly the equal of Chelsea when it came to putting the opponent under pressure in the early stages.
Though keeping plenty of players back throughout, especially when Chelsea had the ball, Steve Bruce’s side did look swift on the counter-attack and it needed Kurt Zouma to slide in to break up a speedy breakaway. An appreciative chant of the Zouma name was the thanks from the Stamford Bridge support.
On 14 minutes there was a stroke of luck for the visitors when their goalkeeper Dubravka kicked straight at the nearby Tammy Abraham but the rebound fell safe from their point of view. Then came the first genuine chance created by Chelsea, Callum Hudson-Odoi, who had several eye-catching moments today, picking out Willian at the far post and inside the six-yard box but the Brazilian headed back across goal and wide.
With 18 minutes gone and fed by Hudson-Odoi, Mount swivelled superbly but had his firm shot saved.
That was a good spell for Chelsea but it was followed by a poor one. Alonso was booked and sloppy play led to Newcastle centre-forward Joelinton heading wide. Quickly up the other end, Willian shot wide of the Shed End goal.
Approaching the half-hour, there was Chelsea anger when no free-kick was given when Jamaal Lascelles floored Abraham before a high ball arrived. It was symptomatic of a stop-start first half with not much going our way.
Mount won a free-kick in a good position but Willian’s strike hit the top of the leaping Newcastle wall.
Just before half-time, Barkley’s game came to an end. He had been hurt early on by a block tackle and though he had struggled on for a long time, it was now time for Mateo Kovacic.
There was still time in the half for Tomori to be controversially booked for a challenge when he was convinced he had won the ball.
Hudson-Odoi, with a run into the penalty area early in the second half tried to get things going for the Blues, and after that we did pass the ball with more speed and purpose. From a Willian corner, Abraham headed against the bar.
The dangerous balls and corners into the Newcastle box were coming regularly now, and Pulisic was introduced in place of Mount to add another dribbler to our attack.
With 65 minutes on the clock another Willian corner was met by Abraham but this one was headed a couple of feet over before a really big chance as Chelsea cut Newcastle apart. A deflected Hudson-Odoi shot fell the way of Pulisic whose effort was on target but the goalie made a good save.
Willian, from a difficult angle, did well to force another save from Dubravka but that was only a short stay of execution for the team from Tyneside. There were just under 20 minutes left to play when Hudson-Odoi knocked a pass out square to Alonso just inside the area and the Spaniard struck his shot low and true. The keeper got fingers to the ball but there was no stopping it hitting the net.
Chelsea were then denied a second when DeAndre Yedlin somehow slid in the way of a goalbound Abraham shot after Kovacic and Pulisic had carved Newcastle open.
The victory that came with the final whistle gave Chelsea our eighth successive win at Stamford Bridge against Newcastle in all competitions.