Reece James stars as Premier League leaders Chelsea ease past winless Newcastle

Blues extend their lad at the top with comfortable victory

Reece James crashed home a second-half double as Chelsea thrashed Newcastle at St James’ Park to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table.

England defender James produced a brilliant finish midway through the second period and then made it 2-0 by driving home a rebound before Jorginho sealed victory by converting a late penalty.

The Blues moved three points clear at the top with their fourth-successive Premier League win.

Defeat for managerless Newcastle saw them equal their longest winless run at the beginning of a top-flight season of 10 games, which was set in 1898 and 2018.

It was not the way interim-boss Graeme Jones wanted to hand over the reins, with Newcastle expected to appoint a permanent replacement for Steve Bruce before next week’s trip to Brighton.

Jones’ side made life difficult for Thomas Tuchel’s European champions, but they ran out of steam as Chelsea extended their unbeaten league run on the road this season to five matches.

Newcastle’s game-plan initially proved effective as they stifled the life out of Chelsea in a goalless, uneventful first half.

The Magpies were happy to let Chelsea have the ball, sitting deep and looking to hit them on the counter and were penned in for most of the first 45 minutes.

The home side’s best first-half chance came in the second minute when Ryan Fraser fired the ball across the face of goal, but nobody was close enough to get on the end of it.

Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech thought he had scored with the game’s first shot on target in the 29th minute, but his effort was quickly ruled out for offside.

Ziyech should have given Chelsea the lead soon after when left unopposed on the left edge of the six-yard box, but he skied James’ ball over the crossbar.

Newcastle did all they could to slow the game down. Goalkeeper Karl Darlow was told to get a move on and Matt Ritchie was booked by referee Paul Tierney for delaying a throw-in, both before the interval.

The away side went close to breaking the deadlock early in the second half when Ziyech’s shot deflected off Jamaal Lascelles on to a post.

Jorginho then fired over and Chelsea’s frustrations were clear when N’Golo Kante – making his 200th Premier League appearance – and Ziyech were booked for rash challenges within the space of a few minutes.

But the visitors broke the deadlock in emphatic style in the 65th minute. Callum Hudson-Odoi’s cross fell to Reece on the right edge of the area and he slammed home a left-footed finish from a tight angle.

Chelsea began to find pockets of space as Newcastle legs tired and when Blues substitute Hudson-Odoi’s fierce drive struck Ciaran Clark, James thumped home his second in the 77th minute.

"I think the first one was probably the better goal on my weaker foot - it was a good finish," James, who also scored in the 7-0 rout of Norwich City last weekend, said.

"We knew coming here would be a tough game. We had to break them down and it took a lot of time."

The visitors’ relentless approach was further rewarded three minutes later when Jorginho converted from the spot after Kai Havertz was tripped by Darlow.

For Newcastle fans it was a painful reminder of the task ahead of the side and a dampening of the optimism that has surrounded the club since the £305m takeover by the Saudi Arabian-backed Public Investment Fund (PIF).

A crowd of 52,209 watched their second home game since that takeover and their first with lifelong Newcastle fan Jones in temporary charge following the sacking of Steve Bruce earlier this month.

But the hosts offered little attacking threat, only having one weak effort on target, no corners and just a fifth of possession as Chelsea kept their seventh league clean sheet of the season.

"We don't want to play this way, but it is where we are at the moment," said a realistic Jones afterwards.

Updated: October 30th 2021, 5:36 PM
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