Chelsea 1 Newcastle United 0
- David Coote
Newcastle United suffered a first Premier League defeat for nearly three months as Kai Havertz snatched a late victory for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Havertz, fortunate still to be on the pitch after a high challenge on Dan Burn late in the first half, settled a largely even encounter with a stylish finish in the 89th minute, just as the Magpies were looking set to collect a first point at the ground since 2012 and Papiss Cissé’s incredible double.
Though they faded a little late on, United had given as good as they got for much of the game and could count themselves unfortunate not to take a share of the spoils.
With Jamaal Lascelles returning to the Magpies’ XI and Burn and Fabian Schär both starting again, the visitors lined up with a back five at Stamford Bridge for the first time since their recent renaissance begun. But, though they saw little of the ball early on, United were hardly content just sitting back, pressing Chelsea high and hassling the European and world champions whenever they could. Although Andreas Christensen took aim inside the first two minutes, the Blues didn’t really create anything of note until Havertz and Timo Werner combined after half an hour and the latter saw a low strike deflected wide.
Mason Mount then curled a free kick into the side netting from a deep position on the left before Newcastle fired a warning shot themselves, as Burn’s glancing header from a pinpoint Matt Targett cross dropped narrowly wide of the far post. It was a big opportunity for Eddie Howe’s side, who were starting to grow into the game. After Havertz’s controversial elbow on Burn (deemed only worthy of a yellow card by referee David Coote), they ended the opening half in the ascendancy and very nearly took the lead as Miguel Almirón, making his first start of the calendar year, brought ’keeper Edouard Mendy into action with a superb sweeping volley from 20 yards.
After a couple of half-chances at either end, United were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty just before the hour mark as Jacob Murphy, deployed down the left, tumbled following a messy challenge from Chelsea’s Trevoh Chalobah. A scrappy period followed, but the Magpies’ defensive resolve was holding up. The hosts took until the 77th minute to register their first shot on target of the afternoon, with Havertz running onto Hakim Ziyech’s cross and nodding straight at Martin Dúbravka.
In truth, Havertz ought to have done better with that effort but, agonisingly for Newcastle, the German attacker was to make amends in the dying embers of the game, and in some style. With time starting to run out and the Magpies seemingly on their way to another valuable point, Havertz got in behind the otherwise superb Burn, magnificently took down Jorginho’s searching delivery and prodded the ball past a helpless Dúbravka.
He could have rubbed salt in the wounds after finding himself in on goal again as the Magpies pressed for a leveller, only for Dúbravka to get an important touch to turn his goalbound strike onto the woodwork.