Chelsea’s run of consecutive away victories came to an end at St James’ Park as two goals in a minute on the hour swung the contest decisively in Newcastle’s favour.
A brilliant Raheem Sterling free-kick midway through the first half had cancelled out Alexander Isak’s opener. Both sides had chances to nudge ahead before the hosts did, Jamal Lascelles heading in.
Our disappointment at going behind in what had been a tight game was compounded scarcely 60 seconds later when Joelinton put Newcastle 3-1 up after Thiago Silva had lost possession in a dangerous area.
Things went from bad to worse in the final 20 minutes. First Reece James was dismissed for a second bookable offence, and then Anthony Gordon added gloss to the scoreline late on.
Mauricio Pochettino, who watched today’s game from the stands because of a suspension, made two changes to his starting XI, with Benoit Badiashile and Lesley Ugochukwu replacing Axel Disasi and Moises Caicedo.
On a beautiful winter’s afternoon in the North-East, it was an entertaining and open start to the contest, if one short of goalmouth action until Conor Gallagher shot wide.
However, it was the hosts who went ahead with their first attempt of the game, a clever Lewis Miley pass dissecting the Chelsea backline and allowing Isak to finish past Robert Sanchez.
That was on 13 minutes. We were level ten later. Sterling led a counter-attack and the retreating Kieran Tripper could only push him to the ground on the edge of the box. It was Sterling who got the nod to take it and what a fantastic decision that was, his free-kick clearing the wall and dipping under the crossbar with Nick Pope helpless.
It was Raheem’s ninth goal against Newcastle, making them his new favourite opposition.
After riding out a Newcastle storm in response, which included a bad Joelinton headed miss that might have been given as a foul against Sanchez anyway, we fashioned a good opening on the half-hour.
It was a lovely move as we worked the ball from side to side, concluding with James teeing up Enzo for a sweetly-struck first-time effort Pope did excellently to tip wide. Badiashile headed the resulting corner too close to the Magpies’ keeper.
Before the break Pope gifted possession to Gallagher, whose subsequent shot lacked power. Trippier tried to repeat Sterling’s trick but his free-kick from a little further out hit the top of the crossbar. Sanchez might have had it covered anyway.
Letting it slip
The contest had become more fractious as the half drew to a close and that bittiness continued after the break until Newcastle seized the initiative with two goals in a minute on the hour.
The first came from a Gordon cross that an unmarked Lascelles headed past Sanchez from six yards out, and the second stemmed from a rare Thiago Silva mistake on the day the Brazilian became our oldest outfield player. Joelinton pounced and finished comfortably.
Caicedo, Mykhailo Mudryk and Armando Broja came on with 20 minutes remaining, but any intentions from that triple-change were offset almost immediately by James’ picking up a second yellow for a foul on Gordon. Levi Colwill replaced Cole Palmer. A yellow shown to Marc Cucurella also rules him out of the Brighton game through suspension.
Gordon completed the scoring with seven minutes of normal time remaining, wrapping a low shot into Sanchez’s bottom-left hand corner as we struggled to keep Newcastle at bay.
What it means
Our run of consecutive away wins ends emphatically at three as we slip to a second consecutive defeat at St James’ Park, suffering our heaviest defeat in the Pochettino era in the process.
It’s back to the Bridge next Sunday 3 December as Brighton come to town. Hot on the heels of that are trips to Manchester United and Everton.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Sanchez; James (c), Thiago Silva, Badiashile, Cucurella; Enzo, Ugochukwu (Caicedo 69), Gallagher (Mudryk 68); Palmer (Colwill 75), Jackson (Broja 69), Sterling (Madueke 87)
Unused subs Petrovic, Disasi, Maatsen, Matos, Madueke
Scorer Sterling 23
Booked Ugochukwu 41, James 55, Sterling 58, Cucurella 77, Enzo 80
Sent off James (Second yellow) 73
Newcastle (4-3-3): Pope, Trippier, Lascelles (c) (Dummett 87), Schar, Livramento; Miley (Diallo 90+3), Guimaraes, Joelinton; Almiron (Murphy 87), Isak (Ritchie 81), Gordon (Ndiweni 90+2)
Unused subs Dubravka, Gillespie, Karius, Parkinson
Scorers Isak 13, Lascelles 60, Joelinton 61, Gordon 83
Booked Trippier 22, Joelinton 45+3, Ritchie 90+1
Referee Simon Hooper