A rampant Chelsea extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 10 matches with a 5-1 victory that dumped Newcastle United into the relegation zone.
Diego Costa took to the field in a protective mask having suffered a broken nose in training this week but the Spain striker was not to be unsettled in the midst of a purple patch – catching Newcastle cold with his seventh goal in eight league games.
Costa had a hand in goals for Pedro and Willian as the result was put beyond doubt inside the first 17 minutes, although Newcastle contributed heavily to their own downfall with a succession of amateurish errors.
Steve McClaren’s team now slip to third-bottom on goal difference following Norwich City’s 2-2 draw against West Ham earlier on Saturday and are just a point clear of Sunderland after their local rivals beat Manchester United.
Pedro, recalled in a wide attacking role alongside Eden Hazard by Guus Hiddink, completed his brace before substitute Bertrand Traore notched a maiden Premier League goal and Newcastle winger Andros Townsend struck for his troubled new employers.
Chelsea’s triumph, which moves them up to 12th, was soured by the sight of captain John Terry limping out of the action as a Tuesday trip to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League lies in wait.
If Costa’s appearance was something new, the sight of him sniffing out a chance and sliding home Willian’s pass on the angle prompted familiar celebrations in the fifth minute.
Four minutes later, the visitors had a mountain to climb when – following a poorly delivered free-kick from Jonjo Shelvey – makeshift left-back Rolando Aarons played a woeful pass inside under pressure from Costa to Steven Taylor.
Pedro pounced mercilessly and raced towards goal to send a clinical finish beyond Rob Elliot from outside the penalty area.
There was worse to come for Steve McClaren’s beleaguered side – an unchanged line-up playing like strangers – as Costa powerfully outpaced Fabricio Coloccini and returned Willian’s earlier favour by playing a diagonal ball across the box for the Brazilian to make it three.
Pedro shot too close to Elliot in the 37th minute as another presentable chance arrived courtesy of a Newcastle error – Shelvey the guilty party on this occasion.
Terry was substituted after landing awkwardly in a challenge with Aleksandar Mitrovic, marking the only blemish on the opening 45 minutes for Hiddink.
McClaren responded to his team’s hopeless predicament by replacing top scorer Georginio Wijnaldum with Jack Colback in midfield and they at least began the second period on the front foot, as Cesar Azpilicueta blocked a Shelvey shot and Mitrovic whistled an attempt past the far post.
The respite would not last, though, with Cesc Fabregas allowed overly generous time and space to float an eye-catching pass over Taylor for Pedro to dispatch his second.
Costa then made way to a standing ovation for Traore, in order to avoid a repeat of Terry’s fate as the French and English champions prepare to face one another.
Newcastle’s abject showing – which featured the final blow of Traore steering in Azpilicueta’s 83rd-minute cross at the near post – leaves them contemplating a season facing far less-illustrious opposition next term.
It will take much more than Townsend’s splendid late long-ranger – his first for the club – to lift the misery.
Key Opta stats:
– Chelsea are on the current longest unbeaten run in the Premier League – 10 games (W4 D6 L0).
– Newcastle United have lost their last five Premier League away games in a row and have won only two of the last 20 (D2 L16).
– Diego Costa has scored six goals in his last six games in all competitions at Stamford Bridge.
– Willian scored and assisted in the same Premier League for the first time this season.
– Pedro has scored as many Premier League goals versus Newcastle today as he did in his previous 19 apps combined (2).
– All four of Cesc Fabregas’ PL assists this season have arrived at Stamford Bridge.
– Bertrand Traore is the first player from Burkina Faso to score in the Premier League.
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