Chelsea demolish Newcastle United with five-goal show at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea tore through Newcastle to send the Magpies back into the Premier League relegation zone.
Diego Costa scored his eighth goal in 10 games, Pedro struck twice and Willian and Bertrand Traore were also on target in a 5-1 win, with Andros Townsend scoring a late consolation for the Magpies.
Chelsea's only major concern came when John Terry was withdrawn before half-time with an apparent hamstring injury.
The Blues were 3-0 up inside 17 minutes and looked like champions.
But that was mainly down to Newcastle's calamitous defending as Steve McClaren's men lost for the sixth straight away game to fall below Norwich on goal difference.
The Magpies have more than two weeks to dwell on the defeat, with their next game at Stoke on March 2.
Chelsea's most recent home win in the Premier League was the 3-1 defeat of Sunderland on Dece. 19, two days after Jose Mourinho's sacking.
That was the start of the current 12-game unbeaten run, with 11 of those games under interim boss Guus Hiddink.
The Premier League champions climbed to 12th with Hiddink's third Premier League win and first at home and, despite the emphatic result, their best chance of Champions League football remains through winning the Champions League.
Paris St Germain stand in the way in Tuesday's round of 16 first leg, with Terry's participation a possible doubt.
Costa, however, showed no ill effects after breaking his nose in training on Thursday.
He pounced in the box after Willian burst down the right channel and played him in early on, stretching out a leg to flick the ball across Rob Elliot and into the far corner.
Next, Pedro intercepted Rolando Aarons' pass towards Daryl Janmaat and executed a fine finish.
Chelsea had a third when Costa beat Fabricio Coloccini to the ball and fed Willian to score as Newcastle's midfielders backtracked at half pace.
Terry felt the back of his leg and hobbled away after an aerial challenge with Aleksandar Mitrovic. The pair exchanged words soon afterwards beforeTerry was withdrawn.
But Newcastle barely tested Chelsea's reshuffled defence as the hosts had further chances.
Branislav Ivanovic had a shot blocked and Pedro fluffed an attempt after Jonjo Shelvey had gifted the ball to Costa.
Having lost their skipper, it appeared Chelsea might also have to withdraw Eden Hazard when Janmaat caught the Belgian from behind.
But Hazard, making his first Premier League start since Jan. 3, continued.
Mitrovic was caught by Cesc Fabregas on the edge of Chelsea's box, but no foul was given and Cahill blocked a Shelvey effort before Mitrovic fired wide across goal.
The brief flurry of attacking activity early in the second half amounted to a purple patch for the visitors, who soon conceded a fourth.
Taylor failed to reach a Fabregas ball over the top and Pedro tucked in with ease.
A fifth goal followed when Traore tucked in Azpilicueta's cross for his first Premier League goal.
Hazard contrived to miss when he could have scored a sixth from close range before Townsend struck late on.