Superb display from young England forward guides the Blues to three points on Tyneside despite controversial David Luiz decision and Frank Lampard's missed penaltyDaniel Sturridge capped an influential display with a goal as his strike, plus efforts from Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, helped Chelsea past Newcastle in an end-to-end encounter at the Sports Direct Arena.
Both sides had chances but Andre Villas-Boas will feel his side deserved the three points, with Frank Lampard missing a first half penalty and Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul repeatedly denying Daniel Sturridge.
Villas-Boas' counterpart, Alan Pardew, will be wondering what might have been, though, with David Luiz extremely lucky only to receive a yellow card for a foul in the opening minutes.
The result sees Chelsea jump into third place at least temporarily, with Tottenham Hotspur due to play later on Saturday. Newcastle drop to fifth.
Newcastle made just one change to the side that drew with Manchester United. With Jonas Gutierrez suspended, Peter Lovenkrands stepped in on the left flank.
Fernando Torres had to settle for a place on the bench once again as Didier Drogba started for Chelsea in attack. Frank Lampard was restored to the midfield in place of Raul Meireles.
The atmosphere within the now Sports Direct Arena was ignited before four minutes of play had passed. Referee Mike Dean produced only a yellow card when Demba Ba was hauled down by David Luiz – the Senegalese striker appeared to be through on goal as he raced on to Lovenkrands’ pass. Alan Pardew was furious but Ryan Taylor could only put the resulting free-kick into the wall.
Dean will not have improved the home manager’s mood when, minutes later, he awarded Chelsea a penalty-kick. The call was correct – Yohan Cabaye had tripped Daniel Sturridge to goalkeeper Tim Krul’s left – but the Magpies might have felt that some semblance of justice was done when Lampard’s penalty was superbly turned away by the Dutchman between the posts.
Sturridge nearly corrected that miss shortly afterwards, again finding space in the penalty area before shooting powerfully against the post.
Newcastle had looked comfortable in possession, with Lovenkrands particularly influential and Guthrie impressive alongside Cabaye in midfield. But the visitors had found plenty of space on the counter-attack, particularly when Sturridge attacked Ryan Taylor. The young winger went close again at the 20 minute mark when he curled a shot from distance just wide.
It was easy to predict that it would not be his last chance as Ryan Taylor continued to struggle. The former Manchester City man forced a good save from Krul after breaking into the box before hitting the side netting from a slightly tighter angle almost immediately afterwards.
Chelsea were nearly punished for their early profligacy when more good work from Lovenkrands saw the Danish winger cross for Ba, who’s flicked effort forced an excellent save from Petr Cech.
The early sting had been taken out of the game somewhat but chances continued to flow and one could not help but feel Newcastle suffered a severe blow in that regard when Coloccini, who has been troubled by a back problem, was forced off to be replaced by James Perch shortly before the 30 minute mark.
Drogba was adequately put off by Steven Taylor after an excellent cross from deep by Juan Mata before Ba was inches away from giving Newcastle the lead. Guthrie’s ball from the right was outstanding and evaded Luiz but Ba’s header rebounded back off of the post.
Unfortunately for Pardew’s side, Ba’s opposite number was to do one better. A quickly taken throw-in deep into Newcastle territory found Mata who clipped a cross to the edge of the six-yard box. Drogba showed that there is still life in him yet as he powered his header into the roof of the net beyond Krul.
It could have been worse if not for the excellent Krul, who got down quickly to deny Sturridge after the young forward had raced on to Lampard’s defence-splitting pass.
Shola Ameobi was introduced in place of Hatem Ben Arfa, who had been closely watched by Oriol Romeu, after the interval in a move that suggested Newcastle might lengthen their passing in order to exploit Luiz, who had struggled with Ba’s physicality.
Newcastle did make a positive start to the half but their opponents carved out the first real chance. Branislav Ivanovic’s cross from the right found its way to Drogba at the back post, but after controlling the ball well the Ivory Coast striker volleyed into the side netting from close range.
Drogba went closer shortly after that chance – albeit at the wrong end of the pitch. Defending a corner, he nearly headed Cabaye’s ball into the danger area past his own goalkeeper but was saved by the crossbar.
Drogba might have claimed it was intentional because the rebound sprung a Chelsea counter-attack. Sturridge was released down the right and slipped a ball through to the onrushing Ramires, but Krul did just enough to make the save.
Pardew’s half-time switch seemed to be working, as Newcastle looked to have more of a grip on the game, but they struggled to make their possession count and create the chances that might lead to an equaliser. John Terry, in particular, was colossal at the heart of the Chelsea defence and the Blues started to look more and more comfortable as the half wore on.
After Mata had wasted a chance Terry came to the Blues’ rescue once more when Cech unsuccessfully came to retrieve a cross. The ball dropped for substitute Sammy Ameobi, but his volley was blocked on the line by the Chelsea skipper.
His older brother came even closer to finding the leveller. Shola Ameobi did superbly well to make something of Danny Simpson’s ball, turning and firing a thunderbolt that beat Cech but hit the woodwork.
It was not to be the Magpies' day. Torres, introduced late from the bench, saw his shot blocked but was able to recycle the ball to fellow sub Kalou who sealed the three points.
The Blues deserved the three points but the margin of victory was undoubtedly harsh on Pardew's team. Sturridge added a third in injury time to rub salt in the Magpies' wounds but cap an excellent display from the England international who continues to shine.