Chelsea stretched their lead at the top of the Premier League further tonight with a 2-0 win over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge. The managerless Magpies were certainly in the thick of things in the early running and it certainly wouldn‘t be overcooking it if I say that they had the better of the exchanges.
However, a lack of quality in the final third let them down; whilst the same quality was what proved to be the difference for the Blues as some quick thinking from Willian caught the Newcastle defence napping from the corner. From the only Chelsea shot on goal in the half, the Londoners managed to take the lead.
Diego Costa later sealed the deal in the second half with another goal that oozed quality from Jose Mourinho’s men. Here are the player ratings from tonight’s game at “the Bridge”.
Petr Cech (8.5/10): Superb every time he was called upon, notably with the save from Remy Cabella’s attempt and the Yoan Gouffran free-kick in the first half. The choice in keepers exemplifies the depth in Chelsea’s squad.
Branislav Ivanovic (7.5/10): Gave Chelsea a real push going forward as always. Lucky not be booked for a blatant block on Cabella, wasn’t worried by Gouffran for most of the proceedings.
John Terry (6.5/10): Had the better of Ayoze Perez all day long in the air. However, he looked susceptible on the ground with Cabella and Sissoko breaking from the midfield at will. Was turned square by Cabella’s brilliant run on the 32-minute mark. Unperturbed in the second-half.
Kurt Zouma (7/10): Looked good in his first start for the Blues. Even when Chelsea looked shaken in the early going, Zouma looked composed alongside his captain.
Cesar Azpilicueta (4.5/10): Had a torrid time dealing with Cabella and Janmaat on his side of the field before being hauled away with an injury at the half-an-hour mark. That too was a result of a split as the tricky Frenchman tied him up him knots.
Nemanja Matic (7.5/10): The real bedrock of the Chelsea midfield. Whilst he didn’t impose himself on the game as much as he would have liked to, certainly gave the troubled Terry and Azpilicueta a greater margin for error when Newcastle came calling early in the game. Cynical in making a tackle on Cabella, for which was issued a yellow card.
Cesc Fabregas (6.5/10): Comfortable in possession but never really threatened the Magpies’ defence with any defence-splitting passes. Preferred to spread it out more to the wingmen or runners in front of him today.
Willian (8/10): Turned the tide in favour of the Blues with a moment of quick of thinking. The quick corner taken by the Brazilian finally put the Blues ahead after Newcastle had the better of the chances in the opening 44 minutes. His work rate was phenomenal, thus making him a crowd favourite.
Eden Hazard (7/10): Lots of tricks and swirls but never had a defining moment in the game. Came into the game more in the second-half.
Oscar (9/10): Created two moments that turned out to be decisive. The Brazilian was “Johnny on the spot” to deliver Chelsea’s lead. Whilst a sublime flick in the second-half set up Diego Costa to put final nail in the coffin for the Londoners.
Diego Costa (7/10): Took the second goal extremely well but was nowhere near a dominating performance from the Spanish international. Spurned a golden opportuniy in the opening minutes to test Tim Krul.
Ramires (NA): Too less of an impact and time to suggest anything.
Loic Remy (5/10): Came on late against his old club. Shot wide from a half-chance late on.
Filipe Luis (7/10): Steadied the left-flank a lot more than Azpilicueta had managed to do.
Tim Krul (6.5/10): Was caught well off position during Chelsea’s quick take of the corner late in the first-half. Couldn’t do much for the second.
Paul Dummett (5/10): Rarely ventured forward. The left side of Newcastle with him and Yoan Gouffran looked bereft of ideas. Should have done better to track the run of Ivanovic that lead to the opener.
Mike Williamson (5/10): Newcastle still have the same trio of centre-backs four seasons after coming back up in the Premier League. They need someone to replace Williamson, who looked dodgy to be kind to him.
Fabricio Coloccini (7/10): The only person in the Magpies’ back four to exude a little bit of confidence. Tackled the threat of Costa quite astutely for most parts.
Daryll Janmaat (6/10): While Janmaat gives Newcastle a real edge going forward, he needs to give Newcastle more help at the back. Was made to look silly on more than one occasion by Eden Hazard. Thankfully not punished for an early mistake that led to a three-on-one break from Chelsea.
Vurnon Anita (4/10): Failed to tick many boxes. Gave up possession time and again cheaply. Not much penetration whilst going forward either.
Jack Colback (6/10): The blue-collar worker in the Newcastle midfield. Kept things ticking on. But was certainly not one of his best games.
Yoan Gouffran (5/10): Produced a thumping free-kick that tested Cech early on. But didn’t contribute much otherwise.
Remy Cabella (8/10): The Frenchman produced arguably his best performance in a Newcastle shirt till date. Was ever-present in all Newcastle moves going forward. Looked comfortable with the ball and was unlucky not to get a goal. Needs to improve his final delivery.
Moussa Sissoko (7/10): The Frenchman had Chelsea worried with his powerful runs and presence in the midfield. Hit the bar in the 37th minute when he could have done so much better. Presence trickled off in the second off.
Ayoze Perez (5.5/10): Not one of his best games as the tricky Spaniard lacked the cutting edge tonight with his first touch letting him down on more than one occasion.
Sammy Ameobi (6/10): Chelsea defenders at least had to turn an eye on the Newcastle left-side upon the introduction of the lanky winger.
Emmanuel Riviere (NA): Surprised that he wasn’t brought on earlier. Too little time to make an impact.Published 11 Jan 2015, 01:52 IST