Sports Direct Arena
Barclays Premier League
By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At the Sports Direct Arena
Newcastle United 0
Chelsea 3 (Drogba 38, Kalou 89, Sturridge 90)
Newcastle United slipped to only their second Premier League defeat of the season, as goals from Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge struck to settle an emotional contest against Chelsea at the Sports Direct Arena.
On an afternoon when the Geordie faithful paid their tributes to Gary Speed, who passed away last weekend, the Magpies did themselves proud, but Chelsea's firepower was just too much for the hosts to contain.
Drogba nodded home Juan Mata's cross with half-time approaching after they had threatened on a number of occasions, and the Blues had also earlier missed a penalty, with Tim Krul saving brilliantly from Frank Lampard.
Substitute Kalou grabbed the second as time ticked away when he slotted home following good work from Fernando Torres, and Sturridge netted in injury-time to put the result beyond any doubt.
Newcastle had their chances though, as Demba Ba twice went close - first forcing Petr Cech into a good stop before later heading against the post. Sammy Ameobi had a shot cleared off the line, while older brother Shola rattled the crossbar from distance.
The game's first incident came on four minutes. Peter Lovenkrands drifted in off the left flank and slipped a ball behind the Chelsea defence, which Ba was on to like a flash.
The front man had just got clear of David Luiz when the centre-half bundled him to the floor 20 yards out. Referee Mike Dean had no hesitation in blowing for a free-kick but Luiz was lucky to escape with only a yellow card, despite being the last man.
If the visitors got their stroke of luck then so did Newcastle with 14 minutes gone. Juan Mata released Daniel Sturridge down the right and the forward strode into the box before being clipped by Yohan Cabaye.
Lampard stepped up to take the resulting spot kick - the fifth United had conceded this term - but Krul was equal to it, diving full-stretch down to his left to fingertip the ball onto the post and away to safety.
Minutes later Sturridge threatened again, striking the same upright with a low effort from a tight angle, before curling a left-footed shot from distance just off target.
In the 22nd minutes Sturridge spurned yet another chance for Chelsea. Once again, Mata released him to race beyond the hosts' defence, but Krul got down well to smother his attempt which would have been heading for the far corner.
Chelsea had created the majority of the openings in the early stages, but United quickly showed they could mix it with the London side. Lovenkrands wriggled free down the left and delivered a ball for Ba to acrobatically flick goalwards, and only a fine stop from Petr Cech prevented the Senegalese striker from breaking the deadlock.
The Magpies were dealt a huge blow on 28 minutes when captain Fabricio Coloccini hobbled off, to be replaced by James Perch. and Chelsea set about instantly trying to take advantage, with a last-ditch tackle from Ryan Taylor preventing Didier Drogba from stroking home.
But the action was soon back up the other end. Ba got on the end of Danny Guthrie's cross to head against the post, and then John Terry - attempting to clear - could only strike the ball into Luiz, with it dropping agonisingly inches wide.
The visitors broke the deadlock in the 38th minute through Drogba, and it was the simplest of goals. Ashley Cole's throw-in found Mata, who dinked a cross to the near post, where Drogba had nipped ahead of Perch to nod into the top corner.
Krul had to be at his best again straight after, denying Sturridge once more as the youngster threatened to double Chelsea's advantage, and that proved to be the final change of the half.
United boss Alan Pardew made a switch at the break, replacing Hatem Ben Arfa with Shola Ameobi as the hosts reverted to a 4-4-2 formation, and the big front man had an immediate impact, offering an added aerial presence and physical threat to the forward line.
On 52 minutes Drogba should have done better when he fired wide, having chested down Branislav Ivanovic's deep cross, before a crazy 30 seconds in which a chance fell at either end.
First, Drogba headed Cabaye's corner against his own crossbar, under pressure from Ba, only for Chelsea to clear the ball, break at pace and Krul save superbly one-on-one to deny Ramires.
It was end-to-end stuff and Ameobi wriggled free of Oriol Romeu's challenge before drilling a low 25-yard strike narrowly wide, and it wasn't long before his younger brother Sammy was thrown into the fray in place of Lovenkrands.
And the teenager almost equalised within three minutes of his introduction. Cech spilled a deflected Danny Simpson cross from the right, and Ameobi fired a left-footed volley goalwards, but Chelsea skipper John Terry was on hand to clear off the line.
Sammy set the tone and Shola soon followed, working a yard of space on the edge of the box and firing past the grasp of Cech but rattling the thumping against the crossbar, with his sibling finding the keeper equal to his rebound effort.
With six minutes remaining Ba skewed a left-footed shot well wide after the visitor's defence had misjudged Steven Taylor's long ball forward, and Newcastle began to apply some late heavy pressure.
But Chelsea were always going to be dangerous on the break, and so it proved in the 89th minute when substitute Salomon Kalou doubled their advantage. Fernando Torres forced his way into the box before teeing up the forward, who slotted home, and deep into injury-time Sturridge finally got his goal making it 3-0 to the visitors.
Newcastle United (4-4-1-1): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c) (James Perch 28), Ryan Taylor; Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Danny Guthrie, Peter Lovenkrands (Sammy Ameobi 71); Hatem Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi 46); Demba Ba
Chelsea (4-3-3): Petr Cech; Branislav Ivanovic, David Luiz, John Terry (c), Ashley Cole; Ramires, Oriol Romeu, Frank Lampard (Raul Meireles 60); Daniel Sturridge, Didier Drogba (Fernando Torres 79), Juan Mata (Salomon Kalou 74)
Subs not used: Ross Turnbull, Jose Bosingwa, Ryan Bertrand, Florent Malouda
Referee: Mike Dean (The Wirral)
Attendance: 52,305 (2,987 Chelsea)