Marcos Alonso‘s second half goal helped Chelsea break through well-drilled Newcastle United in a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
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American sub Christian Pulisic stole the ball to help set up the opener, turning in a fine performance over the final 20 minutes.
Chelsea moves third on 17 points, while Newcastle slips into 18th with eight points.
Three things we learned
1. Magpies haven’t forgotten Rafa rationale: Newcastle couldn’t take its chances on the counter, but proved a headache for another would-be contender with tight marking and tighter spacing in its own third. Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark were sure to punish Chelsea forwards with physical play, clean and dirty, and the Blues had all kinds of trouble finding ways to trouble Martin Dubravka, who was strong himself until Alonso’s winner.
2. Chelsea wings get points for industry, creativity: Callum Hudson-Odoi and Willian were very active and productive on the day, particularly the former. One of the reasons Christian Pulisic was deployed was Mason Mount‘s inability to make something happen in the No. 10 (ish) role, and the American would make a decisive play to help Hudson-Odoi get his deserved assist.
3. Lampard’s sub makes the difference: Credit Frank Lampard for seeing that Mount wasn’t firing well and deploying a new man in the middle. That was American star Pulisic, who stole the ball in the final third and fed Hudson-Odoi, who in turn found Alonso for a blast across goal. Dubravka should’ve done better, but the break through arrived in London. For a full look at his 25 minutes, head here.
Man of the Match: Hudson-Odoi.
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The hosts finally got a chance from a Callum Hudson-Odoi cross to the back post, but Willian powered his header across goal and wide.
Marcos Alonso was shown a yellow for chopping down DeAndre Yedlin.
Newcastle produced a good move that ended with a Joelinton nod wide before the 25th minute.
The second half brought better from the hosts, as Tammy Abraham thumped a 56th minute header off the cross bar.
Chelsea would look to change its fortunes in the 64th minute via Christian Pulisic, who arrived on the scene for Mason Mount.
Abraham headed over the bar soon after Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi helped earn a corner for the Blues.
Pulisic was robbed by Dubravka when he turned a deflected pass into a prime chance.
That’s when Newcastle brought on Andy Carroll for Miguel Almiron, moving a twin tower approach to the forefront.
But Chelsea found the heroics, with Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi teaming up to put Alonso on the score sheet.
Newcastle nearly found an equalizer when Christian Atsu‘s cross to the back post was popped over the bar by a leaping Clark.