In a match that could have thrown up some bumps in the road with ex-Blues boss Rafa Benitez in charge of Newcastle, it was the Eden Hazard show as the Belgian scored twice as Chelsea ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.
Star striker Alvaro Morata also added to the Belgium’s goals with a header of his own in the first half, after Hazard’s first.
However, preceding those Newcastle took the shock lead through Dwight Gayle after some shocking defence from the hosts gave the North-East side a shock lead.
But Hazard and Morata struck through mistakes before the break to give the home side a deserved 2-1 lead.
The second half brought another fatal mistake from Matt Ritchie, with Hazard’s penalty creatively dinked, with a hat-trick just eluding the star man.
?It did take a few minutes for both sides to find any rhythm, with momentum falling to the home side with quick interchange of passing and pressure building on the Newcastle goal.
Despite control of proceedings going Chelsea’s way, the opening goal came courtesy of Magpies forward Gayle to gift the away side an unexpected 1-0 lead.
The Blues defence scrambling in their own box – a failed clearance coming off Gayle – Jacob Murphy seized the chance to advance on Courtois’ goal, the Belgium slapping the ball away, only for it to fall to Gayle who happily tucked home for a surprise 1-0 lead.
However, with the home side still dominating the contest, chances were starting to fall the way of the Blues.
Hazard came close when a pin-point ball over the top of the defence from Cesc Fabregas, finding the Belgian who couldn’t release the ball out from his feet quick enough to dink his shot past a well spread Karl Darlow.
The 20th minute saw the pressure continue as a cross from N’Golo Kante off the right side fell to Andreas Christensen once again – who had been troubling from crosses the whole first half – with his effort bouncing off the woodwork.
But a minute later saw the home sides’ well deserved break-through, another cross from Azpilicueta brought a failed clearance by Florian Lejeune, the ball falling straight to Hazard who couldn’t miss as he brought the home team level.
Twelve minutes on brought what was once again on the cards, another failed clearance from the head of Matt Ritchie allowed Victor Moses to whip in a low cross for Morata to nod home from four yards – giving Chelsea a well-earned lead before the break.
The last close effort of the half came to midfielder Danny Drinkwater about seven minutes before the half time whistle.
Another half-clearance landing at the feet of the centre-mid who loaded up for a 22 yard drive at goal, the shot skewing wide of Darlow’s left hand post.
The hosts came very close to doubling their lead just after the break, Moses fired a whipped cross across goal with Morata battling with defenders blazed his shot over the bar from only yards out.
Ten minutes into the second half and Chelsea still searching for the goal that would kill the visitors off, Hazard once again at his troublesome best piledrived a shot, cannoning off Ciaran Clark and just wide of the post for a corner.
57 minutes in and Hazard was at the centre of events once more, another great ball from Fabregas, a knockdown from Morata and the Belgium – battling with three defenders – displayed his twinkle-toes to weave through on goal, despite being off balance, only to fall once he’d broken through.
Ten minutes later saw a cross from Azpilicueta find the head of Moses inside the box, unmarked, but he failed to generate enough power to trouble Darlow with his distance from goal.
An inspired Hazard continued to sit at the heart of most of the Blues forays forward, continuing to cause havoc for the Magpies’ defence.
Chelsea found themselves with the chance to kill the tie on 73 minutes, when Moses was played into the box by Fabregas, but the wing-back was brought down stupidly by Ritchie, gifting Chelsea the penalty.
Hazard was the man to take the spot kick, feeling in boisterous mood the Belgium winger cheekily chipped the ball down the middle of the goal, gifting his side the 3-1 lead.
Two minutes later and the Belgium was through once again after a Jonjo Shelvey mistake – moments after his introduction to the game – but Darlow was solid once more to keep the Belgium at bay and away from his hat-trick.
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Since the penalty had all but killed off hope for the visitors, the hosts were also content to see out the fading minutes of the game as the final whistle loomed.
But Benitez will be bitterly disappointed with his side’s’ display as it was a raft of mistakes that lead to a poor showing on the road, when points are needed to keep things steady in the fight for safety.
Antonio Conte will on the other hand be very impressed with his team’s show and particularly that of Eden Hazard who was the star turn.