By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At Stamford Bridge
Newcastle United 2 (Cisse 19, 90)
Papiss Cisse struck once in each half to earn Newcastle a huge 2-0 win away at Chelsea in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
United's number nine netted against the run of play midway through the first half with a superb volley from the edge of the box, and then bettered that effort deep into stoppage time at the end of the match with a swerving strike from distance which is one of the goals of the season.
It took Cisse's tally in the black and white stripes to an astonishing 13 goals in just 12 appearances, with the result moving the Magpies four points clear of Chelsea in the table.
The hosts had their moments, with Raul Meireles, Branislav Ivanovic and Didier Drogba all threatening, but in truth goalkeeper Tim Krul was rarely called into action despite large amounts of time spent of the back-foot.
United were good value for the win, recording their 15th clean sheet of a remarkable season, thanks to a stubborn defensive display and two brilliant strikes from Cisse.
Chelsea fired the first warning shot inside 35 seconds. Captain John Terry launched a long ball forward towards Fernando Torres, who laid off into the path of Raul Meireles, but the midfielder could only blaze over from the edge of the box.
Next up to try his luck for the hosts was Daniel Sturridge, who raced in at the far post to try and convert a low cross from the lively Torres. Thankfully for the visitors, left-back Davide Santon was alert and put in enough of a challenge to make the forward fluff his lines and scuff the effort wide.
United created their maiden chance of the evening through Tiote in the 14th minute. Receiving the ball near the halfway line, the Ivorian enforcer was allowed time and space to charge forward before unleashing a drive which Petr Cech was equal to down low to his right.
And despite having spent much of the contest on the back-foot, Newcastle opened the scoring in the 19th-minute through the in-form Cisse.
The Senegal striker has scored some special strikes since his January arrival from SC Freiburg, but number 12 - from 12 appearances - was up there with the best of them.
The goal owed much to an impressive run down the left flank by full-back Davide Santon, and when the Italian delivered into the feet of Cisse on the edge of the box, his first touch flicked the ball up and his second saw an unstoppable left-footed volley fly past the helpless Cech into the the top corner.
Chelsea were stunned and their early impetus had been stunted by stubborn Newcastle side. But with half-time approaching the hosts suddenly sparked into life and could have snatched an equaliser twice in as many minutes.
First, Torres skipped away from Santon, providing an inch-perfect cross for Malouda to glance a header inches wide of the far upright, before Ivanovic nodded a Meireles corner over the top from inside the six-yard box.
United weren't content to sit on their lead, and Demba Ba twice went close to doubling the visitors' advantage minutes before the break. The big striker forced a fine, finger-tip save out of Cech when he fired across the face of goal, and then promptly smashed a shot against the crossbar as they worked a corner routine which was straight off the training ground.
Chelsea made a change at the break, introducing Juan Mata for the largely ineffective Sturridge, and the Spaniard was at the heart of a spell of sustained early pressure for the hosts. However, all they had to show for it was a long-range shot from John Obi MIkel which was wildly off target, as the Magpies continued to hold firm.
With the Blues unable to break through they threw Didier Drogba into the fray, but at the same time Newcastle were forced into their first change of the evening with Tiote being stretchered off.
The midfielder had been involved in an innocuous-looking aerial clash with Mikel which left him prone, and after around eight minutes of being treated in the centre circle he left the field on a stretcher in a neck brace, with Ryan Taylor taking his place.
Chances for both sides were few and far between, but Hatem Ben Arfa struck over the top from the edge of the box when Chelsea failed to deal properly with Ryan Taylor's left-wing cross, while Krul did well to keep hold of Drogba's fierce free-kick on 77 minutes.
Two minutes later Drogba had another go with another free-kick, but this time from a more central position. However, his aim was wayward, flying well off target into the Matthew Harding Stand behind.
Substitute Frank Lampard flashed a half-volley narrowly wide with nine minutes remaining, as the Chelsea pressure grew and Taylor was fortunate not to nod past his own keeper as he tried to clear Drogba's dangerous cross.
The Blues getting ever closer, forcing corner after corner, and in the 88th minute captain John Terry connected with Mata's flag-kick. It was heading across goal, on its way into the far corner, but on this occasion Santon was the Newcastle hero, making an outstanding goalline clearance to keep them at bay once more.
Due to Tiote's injury and three substitutions from each side, a minimum of ten minutes added-on time was signalled and Chelsea continued their assault on the United penalty area.
But the visitors killed the game off deep into that time with one of the best goals you will ever see. Taylor's throw-in down the left touchline was headed out by the Chelsea defence and Cisse let the ball bounce before striking a ridiculous long-range half-volley which swerved from right to left, flying over the head of Cech and into the far corner.
It was a fitting way to end any match, and keeps Newcastle's Champions League challenge a serious prospect with just two games remaining.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Jose Bosingwa, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry (c), Ryan Bertrand; John Obi Mikel, Raul Meireles (Frank Lampard 78); Ramires, Florent Malouda (Didier Drogba 61), Daniel Sturridge (Juan Mata 46); Fernando Torres
Subs not used: Ross Turnbull, Ashley Cole, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; James Perch, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon: Hatem Ben Arfa (Gabriel Obertan 87), Cheick Tiote (Ryan Taylor 69), Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez; Demba Ba (Shola Ameobi 74), Papiss Cisse
Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Shane Ferguson, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux
Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)