London - Chelsea eased the pressure on embattled boss Andre Villas-Boas with a 3-0 victory over Newcastle at St James' Park on Saturday.
was starting to feel the heat following a run of three defeats in
Chelsea's previous five Premier League matches and his team went into
the game on the back of a 2-0 League Cup defeat to Liverpool on Tuesday.
the win, courtesy of a first-half Didier Drogba effort and a pair of
late strikes from Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge, saw Chelsea climb
above fourth-placed Newcastle, who lost for the first time on home soil
this season, into third place ahead of Tottenham's clash with Bolton
later on Saturday.
A planned minute's applause for former
Newcastle midfielder Gary Speed, who died aged 42 this week, was
observed by a sell-out crowd before kick-off.
With a sombre mood
inside the stadium beforehand, a subdued start was perhaps expected but
the game was sparked into life with just three minutes on the clock.
Cabaye threaded a low ball behind the static Chelsea backline for Demba
Ba to chase, only for the Senegal striker to be wrestled to the turf by
With the Brazilian centre-back the last line of
defence and the home support baying for a red card, referee Mike Dean
quickly incurred the wrath of the Newcastle players when Luiz was shown
The early drama refused to subside and, just moments after an 11th-minute tribute to Speed, the visitors were awarded a penalty.
jinked his way into the area only for the out-stretched leg of Cabaye
to curtail his progress and Dean pointed to the spot.
Lampard stepped up in search of his ninth goal of the season but Tim
Krul, the Holland goalkeeper, was equal to the driven effort as he
palmed onto the post and the game remained goalless.
getting a lot of joy down Chelsea's right and before the midway point
of the opening period he had been denied by first a post and then Krul.
frenetic start continued and Ba, having improvised to back heel a Peter
Lovenkrands cross towards goal, was thwarted when Petr Cech clawed over
the crossbar on 24 minutes.
Ba again went close on 35 minutes,
this time seeing a 10-yard header crack the base of the post after Danny
Simpson had delivered from the right.
But it was Chelsea who
seized the lead on 38 minutes when Drogba headed home his third of the
season after Juan Mata had escaped Cabaye inside the area before
dropping delicately onto the Ivorian's forehead.
another change at half-time with Shola Ameobi replacing the ineffectual
Hatem Ben Arfa, the former Marseille forward.
And United could
have been on level terms within 10 minutes of the second period when
Drogba inadvertently shuddered his own crossbar when attempting to head
clear from a Cabaye corner.
Chelsea broke and the home side again
had Krul to thank as, with Ramires clean through on goal, he used his
shin to deflect the Brazilian's low shot wide.
Ameobi was joined
by younger brother Sammy on 71 minutes and within moments the junior
sibling had seen a 12-yard volley hacked from the line by John Terry.
Still United pressed for parity and it was Shola Ameobi who tested the woodwork with a vicious blast 10 minutes from time.
Chelsea survived and the result was made safe in the 89th minute when
Kalou turned in from close range after good work from fellow substitute
But there was still time for Sturridge to get his
name on the scoresheet when, in stoppage time, he drifted infield from
the right before drilling into the bottom corner.