Newcastle ended Chelsea’s 23-game unbeaten run on Saturday, with Papiss Cisse’s super-sub feat spoiling what became a wasteful end for the runaway leaders.
Cisse scored from Newcastle’s two great chances in the second half to increase his tally to seven this season, while Chelsea failed to take their numerous opportunities.
He first poked home from close range to open scoring before completing his brace, merely into the 25th minute of his introduction, tucking in after a swift break by Alan Pardew’s men.
Didier Drogba came up with Chelsea’s only goal but a late rally for a point evaded the Stamford Bridge outfit and Jose Mourinho will now wait for his first victory at Newcastle.
Diego Costa returned to the Blues starting lineup having been suspended for the home win over Tottenham Hotspur in the midweek. “Trusted” John Obi Mikel replaced the banned Nemanja Matic in the only other change to the starting formation from the midweek.
Alan Pardew made three more changes from the side that drew at Burnley on Tuesday, with Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Moussa Sissoko, Jack Colback and Remy Cabella replacing Mike Williamson, Mssadio Haidara, Mehdi Abeid, Yoan Gouffran and Papiss Cisse.
Mourinho had downplayed the importance of setting a new club record for unbeaten runs over the need to ensure his side continue a steady match to a third league title under his tutelage.
St. James’ Park has been a bad hunting ground for Chelsea in the past two years, but on this day with the game even kicking off on a friendly reminder on one of the most iconic moments of the First World War, the 1914 Christmas Truce football match, which the Premier League, FA and the Football League tagged ‘Football Remembers,’ memories of last season’s 2-0 defeat in the corresponding fixture was still fresh in the runaway leaders’ subconscious- and explains why Mourinho insists “teams up their game for us.”
‘Indeed, so true’ as the visitors got off to a rampant start in the early Saturday afternoon kickoff; going forward in numbers, while Pardew’s men got numbers behind the ball, with Sammy Ameobi even tracking back to defend in wide areas.
Chelsea had managed ten attempts on goal before the half hour with Willian twice getting close to breaking the deadlock.
The Brazilian received a pass from countryman Oscar from the edge of the area, but watched goalkeeper Rob Elliot dive to push his effort for safety after ten minutes of the referee’s kick-off whistle. Eden Hazard then caused few more troubles in Newcastle’s half on 20 minutes, when he ran at the defence, waited and squared a pass for Costa, instead the ball arrived at Willian’s feet but his bouncing effort went just wide of target.
Chelsea dominated early possession, but when Newcastle did manage to surge forward in the 31st minute; they had the best opening of the half. Ayoze Perez sent a defence-splitting pass to in-rushing midfielder Colback, but his low shot went straight at the onrushing Thibaut Courtois.
The hosts had two more faint chances, but Colback and Cabella failed to convert and when Cesc Fabregas stirred up one last opportunity before the break with a clipped delivery for Oscar in the box, the Brazilian’s acrobatic overhead kick went wide.
Newcastle goalkeeper Eliot languished into the dressing room with an injury and in absence of 1st-choice Tim Krul through injury, academy keeper Jak Alnwick, 21, emerged from the tunnel to make his competitive debut on restart.
Pardew brought on his prolific goalscorer Cisse for Cabella within 8 minutes of the second half and the Senegalese could only wait for five minutes to score his 6th goal of the campaign. Ameobi’s low cross from the left was poorly cleared by Gary Cahill, and Cisse- few yards out from goal- tapped in the opener.
Moussa Sissoko should have doubled the lead almost immediately but cushioned his header just wide.
With time ticking away, the ‘Blues’ resulted to highball, swinging crosses from every corner, as Alnwick waited for a first real threat.
The longer Mourinho and the rest of his backroom staff waited for an equaliser, Cisse snatched a second for the Magpies less than 40 seconds after Hazard had hit the woodwork.
Newcastle surged forward again and Sissoko squeezed a pass through to an unmarked Cisse, who never misses, but poked into an unguarded net at the back post in the 78th minute.
The hosts ended the game with ten men as Steven Taylor received his marching order for a second yellow card after a bad foul on Chelsea substitute Andre Schurrle.
The last time Chelsea won at Newcastle in 2011, Drogba was among the goals, and this time- though as a second-half substitute for Willian- thumped in a superb header from close range off Fabregas free-kick to reduce Chelsea’ s arrears.
Alnwick was called into action on 88 minutes, parrying Costa’s fizzing drive from the edge of the box. Branislav Ivanovic then saw his header saved by youngster with Chelsea locked in a frantic battle for a solitary point.
A chorus of boos echoed around St. James’ Park when referee Martin Atkinson decided to give away six more minutes of injury time; however, there was not to be a late rally as Newcastle became the first side to beat Chelsea this season.