Chelsea vs Newcastle United

Marcos Alonso’s second-half winner handed Chelsea a narrow 1-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon.

Steve Bruce’s visitors – who were looking for back-to-back Premier League victories – began brightly at Stamford Bridge, while the hosts struggled to break them down with Martin Dúbravka in fine form between the sticks.

It took a sustained spell of pressure to eventually undo United, with full back Alonso’s first-time effort in the final 20 minutes dealing a cruel blow to the Magpies, who had looked to be good value for a point.

In an open first half, Newcastle looked a threat on the break. Allan Saint-Maximin was at the heart of much of their good work, working well in tandem with Miguel Almirón and Joelinton. His snapshot from the edge of the box was United’s first effort, but it didn’t trouble Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Chelsea responded, with Callum Hudson-Odoi’s cross being nodded wide by Willian, before the England winger laid on another opportunity for Mason Mount. This time, Dúbravka was called into action, reacting quickly to palm away the strike well.

Some hesitation from Fikayo Tomori allowed the visitors a glimmer of a chance soon after. Saint-Maximin – who had pounced when Tomori twice struggled to clear – crossed deep for Joelinton but his header, at full stretch, flew high and wide.

Willian dragged an effort wide before the half’s end but in truth, Bruce’s men had seemed solid when tested by the hosts, with Ciaran Clark keeping his place in central defence alongside Fabian Schär and Jamaal Lascelles after a similarly resolute display against Manchester United almost a fortnight ago.

It was Clark who put in a vital challenge seven minutes after the restart, denying Hudson-Odoi a clean shot at goal after a mazy dribble brought him into the box. Chelsea was beginning to apply greater pressure – Willian’s outswinging corner was met by Kurt Zouma before the hour, and his firm header thumped the crossbar.

Frank Lampard’s side enjoyed plenty of the ball in the second period and continued to search for a decisive touch. Tammy Abraham headed another Willian corner over the top, and another opening fell to substitute Christian Pulisic. A swift counter attack resulted in Hudson-Odoi’s deflected shot falling for him, but Dúbravka stood up and produced a vital top to turn the American’s effort past the post.

There was another smart stop from Willian’s angled half-volley minutes later but, with just over quarter of an hour remaining, they finally broke through. It was tough on United, whose defence did not deserve to be breached, but when Alonso connected sweetly 18 yards out, Dúbravka was beaten by the power of the low drive.

DeAndre Yedlin then slid in at the perfect moment to deny Abraham a tap-in, but despite their endeavour in the dying minutes – which saw Jetro Willems’ volley fly over – Newcastle were unable to find an equaliser.

Match report originally posted here.