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Chelsea 3-2 Newcastle: Palmer piledriver and Mudryk magic helps down Magpies



(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

A Cole Palmer inspired Chelsea saw off Newcastle United in a hard-fought 3-2 Premier League win at Stamford Bridge on Monday night.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men scooped a big three points in this unceremonious mid-table clash, with goals from the wily Nicolas Jackson, the indomitable Palmer and a cool Mykhailo Mudryk keeping them within touching distance of the European conversation.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Newcastle started with plenty of wind in their sails, but the air was sucked out of them by a bolt from the blue around five minutes from the off. Malo Gusto attacked the box on the right flank and sent in a speculative low ball. A poor clearance made its way as far as Cole Palmer prowling on the edge of the area, and his snapshot was helped on its way by a flick from a sharp Nicolas Jackson to establish an early lead for the home side.

Palmer was clearly in the mood, catching a strike with greater sweetness shortly after the ten minute mark that albeit nestled into the clutches of Martin Dubravka. Less accurate was a wild drive from Fabian Schar at the other end a matter of moments after – Djordje Petrovic would have watched those all night.

The Toon Army settled, with the typically thuggish Bruno Guimaraes making his stamp on proceedings by clattering a few Chelsea players with no danger of a yellow card as to be expected. Alas, the next sight of goal came the way of the team in royal blue, with Jackson firing fairly tamely from distance for Dubravka to claim. Enzo Fernandez also floated an attempt high, wide and not so handsome after some good twisting and turning from Palmer left lanky Dan Burn looking like a discombobulated cheese string.

Gusto and Palmer were giving Burn a torrid time of it on that side, not helped by his comrade Anthony Gordon’s penchant for avoiding defensive duties. As such, Eddie Howe enacted a switch of wings to get the tenacious Paraguayan Miguel Almiron in as reinforcement. Speaking of tenacity, one of the biggest cheers of the half came on the half an hour mark when Conor Gallagher went sliding in cleanly.

The first real opportunity for the Geordies fell the way of Gordon after a free kick was launched hopefully into the Chelsea area. A returning Marc Cucurella closed down the angle however, diverting the ball harmlessly over the bar. A coming together between the two men thereafter saw the former Chelsea transfer target withdrawn through injury, with Jacob Murphy coming on in his place.

(Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

There was a sense that the visitors had weathered the early storm, and they could have been on level terms if not for a couple of bites of the cherry from Joe Willock going awry after some quick deliveries into the box. Newcastle kept drawing fouls, with Raheem Sterling seeing yellow after he tripped former Blue Valentino Livramento. Alexander Isak would head miles over from the resulting free kick.

The Swede wasn’t to miss with his feet though. A frankly embarrassing period of pinball from this sloppy Chelsea side carved out an opening, and Isak used the body of Axel Disasi to curl beyond the outstretched Petrovic and restore equilibrium in minute 43 with a very impressive finish. The Blues only had themselves to blame as is so often the case, taking their foot off the pedal and shooting themselves in it. The sad state of affairs Mauricio Pochettino could only shrug his shoulders, completely unable to motivate or get a rise out of his sorry band of misfits such is his level of inspiration or lack thereof.

Both sides had decent opportunities just before the break. Jackson had the ball in the net after some fine composure, but he’d gone half a second too early and was rightfully flagged offside. Joe Willock also found himself in behind from a long ball over the top, with a big tackle from Disasi poking the ball over. Finally, Sterling fashioned a yard of space in the area but fired right down the gullet of the Newcastle ‘keeper. It was a fast, frenetic, and ultimately frustrating end to the half for the home spectators at Stamford Bridge.

As has been so often the case this season, Chelsea came out for the second half with all the speed and intent of a pack of obese rhinos with cement in their boots. Petrovic had to be alert to push over a vicious hit from Almiron who had sprung clear. A cross-cum-shot from Guimaraes from the resulting set piece created some anxieties around the stadium, too.

Palmer, at least, looked lively. His mazy run sent all of the Newcastle defenders for a dummy, and his ball across the face was begging for a surging Gallagher to get a toe to it. He would then slip in another former Manchester City man, Sterling, who conspired to shoot wide on his favoured right peg in a good position.

(Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Sure enough, it was Palmer who would come up trumps to drag Chelsea ahead on the hour mark. Enzo Fernandez fired in an incisive ball to feet, Palmer picked it up in the pocket and with four players surrounding him he lashed it hard and low into the bottom right corner. It could have been three mere seconds later, but Burn was able to block an effort from Sterling on the line after he had rounded Dubravka.

The fixture became a bit scrappy after a round of substitutions, with Petrovic and Caicedo seeing yellow for their troubles. But it was one of those substitutes that would cut through that with some genuinely mesmerising footwork to all but walk it into the back of the net. A surging run from Jackson on the left flank made its way to Gallagher, but the Ukrainian took it off his toes, nutmegged Schar and danced past Dubravka before steering home. A moment of sublime solo inspiration truly cut through the malaise that had descended upon much of proceedings on the evening, and served as timely reminder of his untapped quality.

Unsurprisingly, Chelsea conspired to leave an opening from there. From out of nowhere, Jacob Murphy rolled Marc Cucurella and unleashed a strike beyond the grasp of Petrovic into the top corner as the match entered stoppage time. The Blues had to camp in their own half as the inevitable assault came, but they just about held on for three points and a morale boosting victory.