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Newcastle United 4-1 Chelsea: Quickfire double sinks ten-man Blues in collapse



(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

A naïve Chelsea performance was roundly punished, with the Blues slumping to a frankly shambolic 4-1 loss against injury-hit Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Saturday.

Mauricio Pochettino could only watch from on high in the stands as his men lost their cool and totally capitulated, gifting the hosts two goals in as many minutes and losing their captain to two soft yellow cards to put the punctuation mark on one of the worst showings by a Chelsea side that this writer can remember in recent history.

The first chance of the game fell the way of the spritely visitors, but Nicolas Jackson – in a hot vein of goalscoring form – looked into two minds as he spearheaded a counter, and could only get off a tame shot on goal. Conor Gallagher would also fire one beyond the far post a couple of minutes later, after making a good dart into the box and jinking inside Kieran Trippier.

Yet as so often has been the case for the Blues in the past couple of years, a familiar malaise descended and the Magpies scored with their first real chance in the 13th minute. Marc Cucurella was caught napping and played Alexander Isak onside. The Swede could hardly believe his luck as the ball came to feet from all of ten yards, and he could only duly obliged with the goal gaping.

(Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

That lapse in concentration from Cucurella undid the steady opening that the Pensioners had put together, both on the scoresheet and in their disposition. Pochettino’s men looked rattled, making careless mistakes and struggling to get out from the back under the Newcastle press.

Enter, Raheem Sterling. Springing forward on the counter-attack, he showed great veteran experience to draw the foul from Trippier. Captain Reece James would leave the resulting free kick to the former Manchester City man, who with a cute run up set his sights and placed one with such precision that Nick Pope was stuck in the mud.

Equity was restored, but it really should have lasted all of two minutes. Joelinton lost his marker from a corner and Robert Sanchez slipped to the floor amongst a sea of bodies. With an empty net for all intents and purposes, the Brazilian could only guide his header into the side netting.

Newcastle – who haven’t won a major trophy since 1955 – gained a foothold in the game again, but Chelsea remained dangerous on the counter and it require some sharp reflexes from Nick Pope to tip wide an Enzo Fernandez drive on the half hour mark that was creeping into the near post. Benoit Badiashile would go on to head the resulting corner safely into the palms of the England goalkeeper.

The chances kept coming at a periodic rate for the Kings of the King’s Road. Pope passed the ball straight to Gallagher to essentially invite him to have a free pop at goal, but the Chelsea star badly scuffed his shot in the panic to punish the mistake.

(Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Newcastle were next to demonstrate the tools in their arsenal. Trippier, well known for his free-kick prowess, left Sanchez scrambling as he lashed one on to the bar from 25-yards out. Lesley Ugochukwu went into the book for his part in that event, and Joelinton would join him after a clothesline on Reece James that seemed befitting more of WWE Survivor Series later in the day than it did a football match at St James’ Park.

That would be the curtain call on a strange first-half, with the momentum ebbing and flowing and both sides spurning gilt-edged chances to take the initiative.

Chelsea would be presented with a free-kick in another dangerous position right from the restart. Oddly it was James who stepped up this time, and he fired high and wide. At the other end, the Magpies’ set pieces continued to sow alarm. A succession of corners had the Pensioners reeling and Robert Sanchez in particular looked like a fish out of water when the ball came in high to the box.

The Blues’ frustration was personified by James and Sterling getting successive yellow cards for kicking the ball away after the hosts were awarded a free kick. Those needless fouls would come back to haunt the visitors, with Jamaal Lascelles having the freedom of St James’ Park to head beyond Sanchez and restore the hosts’ lead. A quick 1-2 punch would see Joelinton score all of a minute later – a disastrous mistake from Thiago Silva leaving Chelsea with a mountain to climb with half an hour left.

But really that meant there was only time for things to go from bad to worse – and they did. With Anthony Gordon breaking away, James gave him a shove in the back and could have no complaints when Simon Hooper showed him his marching orders.

From there it was a procession. Silva and Cucurella were forced into a number of blocks and heroics were needed from Sanchez to deny Schar. Cucurella would also see yellow, ruling him out of the next game – against his former club Brighton, no less.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The patchwork could only last so long, and Gordon would seal the Chelsea collapse with five minutes of regulation time remaining. Neither Silva or Badiashile could stop him in his tracks and he rifled it into the far corner. The five minutes of added time felt particularly cruel on a pitiful, pathetic Chelsea side who trudged off with their heads – hopefully – held in shame.