Eden Hazard got what he deserved from this match. So did Chelsea; and so, ultimately, did DeAndre Yedlin and Newcastle.
The win was controversial, according to the locals. They left complaining bitterly about referee Paul Tierney and his 74th minute penalty award, and cursing the rotten luck that befell Yedlin with two minutes of normal time remaining, but these are red herrings.
The penalty was a penalty and was converted by the finest footballer on the field; Yedlin jabbed an elbow into Olivier Giroud’s face on his way to creating Newcastle’s equaliser, then he kicked the ball into his own net for Chelsea’s winner.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Newcastle (5-4-1): Dubravka; Yedlin, Fernandez, Schar, Clark, Dummett; Ritchie, Diame, Ki, Murphy (Perez 74); Rondon (Joselu 62)
Subs not used: Muto, Sterry, Darlow, Atsu, Longstaff
Booked: Schar, Fernandez, Ritchie
Goals: Joselu 83
Chelsea (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic (Barkley 79); Pedro (Willian 69), Morata (Giroud 65), Hazard
Subs not used: Loftus-Cheek, Caballero, Zappacosta, Christensen
Goals: Hazard pen 76, Yedlin OG 87
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).
So the good ended happily and the bad unhappily, just as it should be, and three points were delivered to the rightful owner. Chelsea made all the running in this match, despite Newcastle’s best efforts to stop them by fair means or foul and ultimately it was the foul that put them on the road to defeat.
Paul Tierney, the referee, had failed to protect Hazard for much of the match, but could not ignore another assault from Fabian Schar in the 65th minute, making him the first Newcastle man in the book.
Maybe this was on his mind when Schar sent Marcos Alonso tumbling in the penalty area. Maybe he had at last realised that Newcastle were taking advantage of his leniency all game, that they had been systematically targeting Hazard all game in a way that reminded of a night in Stoke during Chelsea’s last title winning season under Jose Mourinho.
Maybe Newcastle were not as blatant in their intentions, but the ambition was the same. They thought Chelsea could be roughed up, slapped back to London. They were wrong.
Schar got some of the ball, the top mostly, not the meat of it, but took Alonso out at the same time. Some thought it harsh but, equally, it was reckless. It certainly wasn’t an injustice given what had unfolded through the previous 74 minutes – and it was fitting that Hazard put his shot past Martin Dubravka to give Chelsea a deserved lead.