Chelsea surrendered another lead at St James’ Park as they were beaten 3-2 thanks to a late goal from Newcastle debutant Moussa Sissoko.
Chelsea found themselves a goal down at half time after Jonas Gutierrez headed the home side in front. But Chelsea rallied in the second half and took the lead through a curling effort from Juan Mata after Frank Lampard had equalised with a sumptuous shot from distance. But not for the first time Chelsea could not see their lead through to the end as the new-boy in Toon, Sissoko, bagged two before the end, the winner coming in injury time.
Chelsea had come to the North East a somewhat wounded animal of late, and travelling Chelsea fans were hoping to see their team bite back following several disappointments involving late goals and dropped points. Two goals to the good at the Madjeski Stadium in mid-week, Rafael Benitez’s side’s defensive frailties were laid bare before Reading as Adam le Fondre scored twice before the end.
And with January signing Demba Ba returning to his old stomping ground where he made such a devastating impact in the Premier League with Newcastle, there was hope that the Senegalese international could help put a stop to the Blues’ woes. There were chances for both sides in the opening exchanges, with Davide Santon going close for the home side within 60 seconds, although it was barely enough to test Petr Cech.
Sissoko then pulled the trigger having been set up by Papiss Cisse but John Terry made a superb block. Santon had his second chance of the game after more good link up play between him and his countryman and January signing Yoan Gouffran. The full back cut inside the defender but again Cech was untroubled by the eventual shot.
At the other end Lampard wasted a glorious chance- a chance so often emphatically gobbled up by the England man- shooting high after an Ashley Cole pull back. Having suffered boos from the home support since the start of the match, Ba had a chance to punish his former team but he shot straight at keeper Tim Krul. Lurching to head in the rebound though, Ba took a Fabriccio Coloccini boot to the face and needed extensive treatment before having to leave the field. Hardly the impact Chelsea fans were hoping for; the home support on the other hand were more than pleased with his contribution.
No sooner had Chelsea suffered that blow, Newcastle dealt a knockout before half-time as Gutierrez rose between Chelsea defenders to glance a header past Cech. It was Santon, causing problems on the left hand side, who cut in and floated the ball into the penalty area and on reflection it looked as though Cech could have reacted better, letting the ball sneak between him and the post.
Just when it all seemed to be going wrong for the visitors, parity was soon restored on 55 minutes. Cole received a return pass from a throw in deep in Newcastle’s half, and given time the full back found Lampard who did well to chest the ball away from his marker. With space just outside the area, Lampard unleashed a powerful drive that, although fairly central, gave Krul no time to react.
Now on level terms, Chelsea looked the better team and for a 20 minute spell had Newcastle chasing shadows. Mata, as so often is the case, was heavily involved and dictated much of Chelsea’s play when attacking and it was the Spaniard who took it upon himself to give the Blues the lead. Combining with Fernando Torres who had been introduced for the wounded Ba, Mata received his compatriots lay off and let fly with a powerful, curling effort that flew past the helpless Krul.
Despite Chelsea taking control, Newcastle were not to be taken lightly and were demonstrating their effectiveness on the counter attack. There was always the threat of goals from both sides and unfortunately for the travelling pack of Blues it was Newcastle who took advantage. Gouffran was played through just inside the Chelsea half and forced Cech into a save having run a long way with the ball. But the Czech’s parry fell to the feet of Sissoko who couldn’t miss with the empty net in front of him.
And the home side weren’t quite finished there. Clearly sensing a fragile and wounded defence, Newcastle’s orders were to attack and in the dying minutes Sissoko drillied low into the corner after Santon- who had impressed throughout with his surging runs from the flank- danced into the area before pulling back for the debutant.
It was a sorry way for Chelsea to send their faithful fans back down to West London after an enthralling game once again ended in disappointment. Chelsea have now not won in four attempts and whilst they have certainly not been shy of goals, Benitez’s side are far too generous for their own good. With league leaders Manchester United now 16 points clear of Chelsea after their 1-0 win at Fulham, it would be wise to start looking over their shoulder at 4th placed Tottenham who are now just 1 point behind.
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