By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
At Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 5 (Costa 5, Pedro 9, 59, Willian 17, Traore 83)
Newcastle United 1 (Townsend 90)
A nightmare opening 17 minutes cost Newcastle United dear as they suffered a 5-1 defeat at Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday.
Three early goals from Diego Costa, Pedro and Willian put the Blues in total control at Stamford Bridge, before Pedro - again - and substitute Bertrand Traore scored in the second period to secure a comfortable three points for the hosts.
Newcastle should have had a penalty, when Cesc Fabregas fouled Aleksandar Mitrovic inside the box, and they threatened briefly through Georginio Wijnaldum, Jonjo Shelvey and Mitrovic, but in truth they were always second best.
And even January signing Andros Townsend's first United goal in the final minute was nothing to cheer about for the disappointing visitors.
Costa got the ball rolling in the fifth minute, tucking home Willian's through ball, shortly before Pedro seized upon Rolando Aaron's pass to race clean and double the lead.
And it wasn't long before number three arrived, this time with Costa playing the provider for Willian, who was left with a simple finish.
Newcastle improved after the break but were caught on the break by Pedro for number four, and with time ticking away Traore slid in their Cesar Azpilicueta's near post cross to make it five.
There was still time for Townsend to rifle home a left-footed effort from the edge of the area, but it was too little, too late and the Magpies now have 18 days before their next competitive fixture - a trip to Stoke City on Wednesday, 2nd March.
The game was less than two minutes old when Nemanja Matic had the first opening, but the former Benfica midfielder was unable to hit the target from 20 yards after latching on to Andros Townsend's miscued clearance.
And in the fifth minute the hosts were in front.
Although finished off by Costa, it owed much to the endeavour of Willian, who produced a superb turn in the middle of the park to avoid Cheick Tiote before driving forward and slipping in the Spanish forward.
And Costa kept his composure to hook past the on-rushing Elliot to give Chelsea the perfect start.
United attempted a response but found themselves two down just four minutes later after gifting the Blues a second goal.
As Jonjo Shelvey's left-wing free-kick was cleared towards the halfway line, Aarons sold Daryl Janmaat short, allowing Pedro to nip in, steal the ball, race clear and slot comfortably past Elliot.
Chelsea were in complete control and extended their lead even further in the 17th minute.
A long ball forward was chased down by Costa and, having out-paced Coloccini, the front man picked out Willian with a clever pass that the Brazilian applied a simple finish to at the far post.
The home side weren't done there and went in search of more. Aarons made a timely interception to prevent Branislav Ivanovic's shot finding the back of the net while, from the resulting corner, Cheick Tiote hacked clear the same player's goalbound header.
It took 35 minutes for Newcastle to make an impact at the other end of the pitch but leading scorer Georginio Wijnaldum was unable to take his tally for the campaign into double figures, firing a half-volley straight at Thibaut Courtois after connecting with Daryl Janmaat's cross.
But Chelsea were soon back on the front foot and right on the stroke of half-time Elliot had to be at his best to turn Willian's 25-yard free-kick behind.
Head coach Steve McClaren made a change at the break, introducing Jack Colback in place of Wijnaldum, and the Magpies could have had a penalty in the opening minutes of the second period when Fabregas stood on Aleksandar Mitrovic's ankle just inside the area.
However, despite replays showing clear contact, referee Roger East failed to award the spot kick.
United were applying some pressure and only a superb Cesar Azpilicueta tackle prevented Shelvey from getting the visitors on the scoresheet in the 52nd minute. Andros Townsend tricked his way past substitute Baba Rahman and found Shelvey, but Azpilicueta blocked as the midfielder pulled the trigger.
Mitrovic was next to try his luck, latching on to a half-cleared cross, steadying himself but dragging his angled shot narrowly the wrong side of the upright.
And Chelsea promptly made them pay, as Pedro scored his second of the evening in the 59th minute to make it 4-0.
Fabregas launched a long ball over the top and as it dropped over Steven Taylor's head Pedro took it in his stride before finishing past the helpless Elliot.
But it failed to stem the Blues' tide and goal number five arrived with seven minutes remaining. Azpilicueta raced down the right before delivering to the near post, where Traore had eased in front of Taylor to slide home.
In the final minutes, Townsend cut in off the right flank and drilled home a low, left-footed strike but that consolation was as good as it got for the visitors on another disappointing away-day.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Thibaut Courtois; Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry (c) (Baba Rahman 38), Cesar Azpilicueta; Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas; Pedro, Willian (Rueben Loftus-Cheek 80), Eden Hazard; Diego Costa (Bertrand Traore 60)
Subs not used: Asmir Begovic, John Obi Mikel, Kenedy, Loic Remy
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Rob Elliot; Daryl Janmaat, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Rolando Aarons; Cheick Tiote (Jamaal Lascelles 66), Jonjo Shelvey; Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum (Jack Colback 46), Andros Townsend; Aleksandar Mitrovic (Seydou Doumbia 70)
Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)
Bookings: Chelsea - none; Newcastle United - Taylor (19), Shelvey (61)