An away trip to Newcastle United is always a tricky task for Chelsea. Their record in this fixture has not been good enough and their struggles against the bottom half teams this season made the task more difficult.
This was an important game for both teams. Chelsea looked to continue their recent good form and cement their place in the top four. On the other hand, Newcastle United is struggling with injuries and poor form as they look to avoid falling into the relegation zone.
The Magpies adopted a very defensive approach to frustrate Chelsea. They allowed Chelsea to have the ball and crowd them out in the midfield. This approach worked as Chelsea struggled to create any major chances in the first half. The hosts had the best chance of the first 45 minutes when Brazilian striker Joelinton hit the cross-bar.
The second half saw Chelsea continue their dominance of possession but struggled to break down Newcastle's defense. The Blues did create better chances in the second half, however, they were not able to apply the finish. The game was heading for a draw until Isaac Hayden scored the winning goal for the Magpies in stoppage time.
Frank Lampard will be disappointed with the result as the Blues conceded yet another late goal. This was a good opportunity for the Blues to gain thee points with tough games in the coming weeks. On the other hand, Steve Bruce will be immensely happy with the effort of his team. His injury-ravaged team played according to the plan and were rightly rewarded for their efforts.
While several players impressed, many others failed to live up to the expectations. Here are five hits and flops from the game
#5 Hit: Federico Fernández
Federico Fernández put in a dominant display at the heart of Newcastle United defense. His leadership qualities and intelligence came to the fore as Newcastle frustrated Chelsea's forwards. He always covered the right areas and kept Abraham out of the game. The former Swansea defender made multiple vital clearances and won all possible duels in the air.
The Argentine made his presence felt in the forward areas as well. He played a wonderful pass into the Blues box from which Joelinton hit the cross-bar. He carried the ball out of the defense calmly. Steve Bruce will be hoping for more such performances from the defender as his side looks to build on this performance in the coming weeks.