Full time: Chelsea 3-1 Newcastle
Peep peep! That was a comfortable win for Chelsea, with Dwight Gayle’s early goal giving them a necessary alarm call. After that they were superb, particularly the attacking trio of Fabregas, Hazard and Morata. Victor Moses also had a fine game at right wing-back.
There are some tasty 3pm fixtures, and you can follow them with Barry Glendenning. Thanks for your company, bye!
89 min The game is petering out. Newcastle win a couple of corners, just for the road. Clark heads wide from near the penalty spot.
88 min “Rob,” says Andrew Benton. “Your world might have “disappeared so far up its own arch that it’s almost impossible to tell”, but I would think for many OBO readers the world is reasonably tickety-boo, all things considered. Do cheer up, please, it is only a game of football, after all.”
Ah, sorry Andrew, I think you may have clicked the wrong link. We offer a Happy MBM service as well.
85 min Another Newcastle change: Merino off, Yedlin on.
84 min After some fleet-footed work on the edge of the area from Morata, Alonso’s deflected cross-shot is palmed away by Darlow.
84 min “Presumably, if Merino continues to play so well for Newcastle (65 min), fans will be flocking to see them from now on?” says Paul Gander. “Sorry, couldn’t resist.”
Don’t apologise to me, apologise to yourself.
82 min It’s been an emphatic win for Chelsea. Newcastle have worked hard but this was always going to be a tough afternoon for them.
78 min A double change for Chelsea: Bakayoko and Willian replaces Hazard and Fabregas, who were both superb.
76 min Hazard is denied a hat-trick by a good save from Darlow. He was played in by Morata and tried again to dink the ball over the keeper, this time with his left foot. Darlow stood up and was able to beat the shot away.
GOAL! Chelsea 3-1 Newcastle (Hazard 74 pen)
Hazard dinks a soft Panenka to his left, with Darlow diving the other way. Lovely stuff.
PENALTY TO CHELSEA
Fabregas plays yet another beautiful through pass to Moses, who gets to the ball fractionally before Ritchie and is fouled. It’s a clear penalty.
71 min “I am sitting in a coaching class right now learning about computer networks,” boasts Shah Abdul Ghani. “And being an ardent Chelsea supporter I’m obviously following the match on my phone. It seems like Newcastle are so bad that Rafa Benitez shouldn’t mind swapping the stadium for my classroom right now. It isn’t going to affect the game anyway and I’ll have a bit more inclination to listen to the class then.”
70 min Hazard runs at the defence and plays a short square pass to Drinkwater, who stabs an ingenious return pass with the outside of his right foot. That puts Hazard through on goal but as the ball kicks up he can’t control his shot and the ball dribbles wide. It was a gorgeous pass from Drinkwater,.
67 min Azpilicueta clips in a cross from a narrow position that is headed towards goal by Moses, lurking around the penalty spot. Darlow plunges to his right to make a comfortable save.
65 min Merino has been good on the ball for Newcastle, particularly in the second half. There’s a calm elegance to his play.
63 min This is Newcastle’s best spell since they went ahead early on. That isn’t saying much, in truth, but there has been a slight change in the mood of the match.
62 min “As a Chelsea fan I was worried when Abramovich was firing our managers so fast it was only a matter of time before he’d have to turn to Benítez one day,” says Vaclav Smerda. “Sure enough he did after Di Matteo. Benítez was always a wrong choice for Chelsea. Simply because he was at Liverpool when we kept meeting them in the Champions League and those were tough games. Benítez and Liverpool where great opponents and it was weird seeing him at Chelsea. Anyway, I have respect for what he did over the six months. The abuse he is getting from some Chelsea fans is unnecessary and wrong.”
61 min That’s better from Newcastle, who enjoy a sustained attack before Perez drills a low shot well wide from 25 yards. That’s Perez’s last touch; he has been replaced by Isaac Hayden.
60 min “I’m not anything close to a Chelsea fan but it seems to me Hazard gets fouled more than any other player,” says JR in Illinois. “And not just fouled a little more but like three times more. Guys just chase him around and when they can get close enough they just take hacks at him. His legs must be like hamburger.”
The best thing is that half the time he either evades the hacks or ignores them. His balance is wonderful. It reminds me of that famous George Best goal against Chelsea, when he stayed on his feet despite being run over by Chopper Harris.
58 min “Rafa missed his Dad’s funeral so he could manage a Liverpool game,” says Nick Smith. “Genuine football man and down to earth. Also, people who dislike him are generally pillocks (Mourinho, ‘big’ Sam, Chelsea fans etc).”
Nick’s email address is available for a small fee.
57 min Fabregas’s long pass is headed down by Morata to Hazard, who does absurdly well to maintain control despite being off balance and surrounded by defenders. Eventually he stumbles and the ball runs through to Darlow. Newcastle were appealing for a handball against him as well, not that it matters now.
56 min Hazard’s long-range shot takes a big deflection and drifts just wide of the near post. Darlow had already dived in the other direction.
53 min It feels like a matter of time until Chelsea get a third. Newcastle are scrapping hard but there’s an unsustainable desperation to their defending.
49 min “I agree with JR from Illinois (13:18 update) – no push and no foul from Morata,” says Joe in Milan. “In fact, the slow-motion replays on Sky Italia show that Mbemba stumbled as he moved to anticipate the cross. Morata reached out to help steady his opponent but there was only so much he could do – such a good bloke that Morata is, truly so. Paolo Di Canio in the Sky Italia studio has no issues with Morata’s goal, hence neither should anyone else.”
I have no idea whether people are being sarcastic any more. The world has disappeared so far up its own arch that it’s almost impossible to tell.
47 min Christensen strides forward elegantly from the back and plays a fine through pass to Moses, who should be flagged offside but isn’t. He slips a low ball into the six-yard area that is crucially cleared by Mbemba, who does well to get in front of Morata.
More half-time chit-chat
“The Chelsea fans who are barracking Benítez are beyond pathetic,” says Joseph Sampson. “In the six months he spent at Stamford Bridge, he completely turned our season around, qualifying for the Champions’ League and winning the Europa League in the process. The abuse originated as a show of loyalty to Mourinho, who is now similarly abused by the same Chelsea fans, possibly as a warped expression of loyalty to Rafa?”
(There’s an interesting piece to be written about why Benitez inspired either adoration or contempt, with little in between.)
“Dare I compare Morata’s contact with the defender to the contact that Ramsey felt v Burnley last Sunday?” says Roy Allen. “In my opinion, neither is a foul. In matters of judgement sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. It’s the nature of the game. I’m glad that I’m neither case we stood around for minutes whilst a VAR scrutinised the incidents. Rough, smooth, get on with it.”
(Yes, agreed. See also: the Morata foul when Phil Jones scored an own goal v Chelsea earlier in the season.)
“I’ll help you see Morata’s goal properly,” says JR in Illinois. “There was no push and no foul. His light touching of Mbemba’s back was no cause for Mbemba to collapse to the ground. Also, but unrelated, Dwight Gayle resembles Jon Stewart from the Daily Show. Really. Have a look.”
Half time: Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle
Peep peep! Newcastle started superbly, only to make the mistake of taking the lead. That stirred Chelsea, who played some great stuff and took control of the game through goals from Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata. See you in 10 minutes for the second half.
45+1 min Clark is booked for a cynical hack at Hazard.
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