English Premiership

Chelsea drub Newcastle

2011-12-03 16:54
Andre Villas-Boas (AFP)

London - Chelsea eased the pressure on embattled boss Andre Villas-Boas with a 3-0 victory over Newcastle at St James' Park on Saturday.

Villas-Boas 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.

But 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.

Yohan 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 David Luiz.

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 just yellow.

The early drama refused to subside and, just moments after an 11th-minute tribute to Speed, the visitors were awarded a penalty.

Sturridge jinked his way into the area only for the out-stretched leg of Cabaye to curtail his progress and Dean pointed to the spot.

Frank 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.

Sturridge was 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.

The 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.

Newcastle made 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.

Again 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 Fernando Torres.

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.

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