Joe Willock’s sublime goal was enough to earn Newcastle United a precious 1-0 win over Chelsea in Saturday’s Premier League clash.
Chelsea were forced to make an early substitution in the seventh minute, as a calf issue forced Ruben Loftus-Cheek off for Thiago Silva. It was a lethargic first half that had little flow, but Newcastle were on top for most of the opening 45. Their press was relentless, suffocating Chelsea to the middle of the pitch.
Having slipped to fourth in the table following Tottenham’s win over Leeds earlier in the day, Eddie Howe’s rejuvenated side regained third spot before the World Cup break, and will be in a Champions League place at Christmas for the first time since 2001.
A fifth successive Premier League win, against an admittedly out-of-form Chelsea, was achieved with England striker Callum Wilson starting on the bench, plus a solidity and fluency that their opponents could not match.
Having worked Graham Potter’s side hard in the first half, and after Sean Longstaff wasted two great chances shortly after the break, Willock finally found a breakthrough when he curled in from 18 yards following a surging run by Miguel Almiron.
A youthful Chelsea, without Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling, improved in the second half after the introduction Christian Pulisic.
A Pulisic run led to a Conor Gallagher shot, which was well saved by Nick Pope, but they could not break down a well-drilled Newcastle.
After Liverpool’s win over Southampton, Chelsea’s third consecutive Premier League defeat means they have slipped to eighth in the table, eight points behind fourth-placed Tottenham.
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