Football news - Classy Chelsea see off Newcastle at Stamford Bridge
Premier League, Stamford Bridge – Chelsea 2 (Pedro 9, Willian 57) Newcastle 1 (Clark 40)
Chelsea strengthened their place in the top four and moved to within a point of third-placed Tottenham courtesy of a 2-1 victory over struggling Newcastle at Stamford Bridge.
Willian got the winner with an exquisite second-half curler after Ciaran Clark's bullet header had cancelled out Pedro's delightful early lob.
For long periods Maurizio Sarri's side struggled to turn possession into clear-cut chances, but they slowly found their rhythm to deservedly pick up a fifth win in seven league outings and move six points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal.
Newcastle had a good spell towards the end of the first period when they levelled, but couldn't contend with the hosts once they moved up a gear in the second half. The Magpies are now in the relegation zone in 18th place and have won just once in their last nine league matches.
Next, Chelsea visit Arsenal on Saturday in what could be a key clash in the battle to finish in the top four, while Newcastle face an FA Cup third round replay at Blackburn in midweek before hosting Cardiff in a showdown between two of the league’s strugglers.
Chelsea win but they really need that new striker. The Blues picked up an important victory in terms of the Champions League places and avoided firing a home league blank for the third straight game - but the majority of this contest served to further highlight why Sarri wants to sign a striker in the window. Chelsea eventually prevailed to take advantage of Arsenal's slip-up, but it was no surprise that the winner came courtesy of a moment of genius rather than a more routine finish. Sarri's pre-match comments and his team selection were a clear message to the board - sign me a top-class forward and he probably got what he wanted; three points but a display that supported his call.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Willian. (Chelsea). The match winner. The Brazilian's magical strike was his fifth of the campaign and capped a solid overall performance.
CHELSEA: Kepa 6, Azpilicueta 7, Rudiger 7, Luiz 8, Alonso 7, Jorginho 6, Kante 7, Kovacic 6, Willian 8, Hazard 7, Pedro 8. Subs: Barkley 6, Hudson-Odoi n/a, Giroud n/a.
NEWCASTLE: Dubravka 7, Yedlin 7, Lascelles 7, Lejeune 7, Clark 8, Ritchie 7, Hayden 6, Longstaff 6, Atsu 6, Perez 6, Rondon 7. Subs: Murphy n/a, Manquillo n/a.
9' - GOAL! Chelsea 1-0 Newcastle. Pedro opens the scoring as he latches on to Luiz's lofted pass and coolly lobs Dubravka.
35' - NEWCASTLE CHANCE! Ayoze Pérez races on to Rondon's flick-on but steers his right-foot effort wide of Kepa's left-hand post.
40' - GOAL! Chelsea 1-1 Newcastle. Ciaran Clark thunders a powerful header in to the net from a left-wing corner.
41' - CHELSEA CHANCE! Newcastle's good work is almost immediately undone as Willian gets free on the left of the visitors' area, but fires wide with just the keeper to beat.
47' - CHELSEA CHANCE! Pedro is put free on the right edge of the area but sees his low pile-driver tipped past the post by the Newcastle stopper.
57' - GOAL! Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle. Willian takes Hazard's pass on the left side of the box, jinks inside and curves a super shot into the far corner.
87' - NEWCASTLE CHANCE! Rondon guides Manquillo's cross from the right wide of the near post.
Luiz has registered two assists in his last three Premier League games, having not set up a teammate in 66 games prior to this run.
Eden Hazard (10 goals and 10 assists) is one of two players in the Top 5 European Leagues to have both scored and assisted 10 or more goals in league play this season - the other is Lionel Messi (16 goals and 10 assists)
Chelsea have lost only one of their 24 home Premier League games against Newcastle.
Of players with at least 10 Premier League goals, only Ugo Ehiogu (84%) and David Wetherall (87%) have scored a higher percentage of their goals via their head than Ciaran Clark (83%).