Willian, Diego Costa superb as Chelsea rout Newcastle 5-1 at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea rediscovered some of their mojo with a resounding 5-1 win over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge. The game was pretty much over within 17 minutes as Chelsea flew out of the blocks to establish a 3-0 lead to leave the visitors shell-shocked. The first arrived inside five minutes after a surging run and exquisite pass from Willian put Diego Costa through on goal. Rob Elliott advanced to narrow the angle, leaving Costa with a difficult task, but the striker managed to squeeze it in at the far post.
Soon after, an ill-advised pass by Rolando Aarons was intercepted by Pedro, who raced through unopposed to slot home Chelsea's second. Costa then turned provider for Willian to make it 3-0.
Newcastle upped the tempo at the start of the second half but left themselves wide open at the back. An exquisite lobbed pass from Cesc Fabregas just before the hour mark picked out Pedro, who coolly finished for his second of the evening; from that point, it was just a matter of how many the home side would score.
With the result beyond doubt, Chelsea spent the rest of the match trying to score the perfect goal. It arrived seven minutes from the end when a one-two between Cesar Azpilicueta and Eden Hazard set the Spaniard free down he right flank. A first time ball picked out the near post run of substitute Bertrand Traore, who fired inside the near post. The only blemish in performance came on the stroke of full time when Andros Townsend pulled one back but nothing could detract from Chelsea's most emphatic win of the season.
Player ratings (1-10, 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 -- A virtual spectator for most of the match, he still delivered when called upon. Will be frustrated not to have kept a clean sheet.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 8 -- With little threat to deal with, he spent much of the game in an attacking frame of mind. His inch-perfect cross resulted in the fifth goal, arguably the best of the bunch.
DF Branislav Ivanovic, 8 -- A rugged display at full-back in the first half, which also saw a goalbound shot blocked. Moved to centre-back after John Terry's departure and filled in ably.
DF Gary Cahill, 7 -- A rare league start for the Englishman following Kurt Zouma's injury. Had an easy ride with Newcastle offering little in attack.
DF John Terry, 7 -- Won the upper hand in his tussle with Aleksandar Mitrovic until he landed awkwardly after an aerial challenge and had to come off. With PSG looming in midweek, all fingers are crossed that the injury is not too serious.
MF Nemanja Matic, 8 -- A display that was far more reminiscent of his first 18 months back at the club. A dominating physical presence in the heart of midfield, he ensured his opponents were constantly under pressure.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 8 -- On days like this, the Spaniard makes the game look so easy. His passing was from another planet and having set Pedro up for a goal, he attempted to do the same for Hazard with another delicious ball, only for the Belgian to fluff his lines.
MF Willian, 9 -- Deployed in the No.10 role, he took just five minutes to make his mark as he carved out the chance for Costa to open the scoring. Got on the scoresheet himself before being substituted early with PSG in mind.
FW Pedro, 9 -- The Spaniard's best display in a Chelsea shirt. A constant blur of movement, he was always on the go at both ends of the pitch. Took both of his goals beautifully.
FW Eden Hazard, 7 -- A curious performance that contained plenty of flicks and tricks, though with a strange reluctance to take players on. Will be disappointed not to have done better in injury time when he only had the goalkeeper to beat.
FW Diego Costa, 9 -- Completely bossed the Newcastle defence with a commanding display. Showed a true striker's instinct to open the scoring before illustrating his selfless side by playing in Willian to score the second.
DF Baba Rahman, 7 -- Coming on at 3-0, he could not have asked for a easier situation. Even so, he showed enough in his time on the pitch to suggest that he can be trusted more in the future.
FW Bertrand Traore, 8 -- Given half an hour to shine, the Burkino Faso international took his chance. His tremendous movement was rewarded by his first ever Premier League goal.
MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek, NR -- Got on the ball several times but couldn't make a telling contribution.