Chelsea moved to the top of the Premier League table, if only for a few hours, after a solid win at Newcastle United, their fifth straight victory in all competitions.
Federico Fernandez’s own goal set the Blues on their way, the Argentine defender poking the ball over his own line while under pressure from Ben Chilwell.
Chelsea oozed quality, Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow producing excellent saves to deny the excellent Timo Werner as well as a close-range header by Tammy Abraham.
But Abraham made sure of the points with a smart finish following Werner’s pass after Newcastle had threatened through Isaac Hayden and Joelinton. Sean Longstaff hit the bar for the home side towards the end.
Chelsea, who started the day fifth, are top the table on goal difference ahead of Leicester, who are at Liverpool on Sunday.
Aston Villa, who host Brighton at 15:00 GMT, could replace Chelsea at the summit with a big win, while Tottenham, who entertain Manchester City at 17:30, will move to the summit with a victory.
Six clean sheets in seven for Blues
Not only do Chelsea lead their group in the Champions League, they are now top of the Premier League for the first time since Frank Lampard took charge in July 2019.
This was the first of nine games in the next four weeks for Lampard’s side and the Chelsea boss had to plan for it without several key players who were still away on international duty 48 hours before this match.
It had prompted Lampard to call for Saturday early kick-offs to be scrapped immediately after an international break but the Blues made a ferocious start that caught Newcastle cold.
Werner and Abraham had already been thwarted by Darlow when Chelsea swept into an early lead, Fernandez inadvertently turning Mason Mount’s cross past his own keeper after a short corner.
That was Chelsea’s 35th goal in 14 league and cup games but it should have been more before half-time.
Werner, who had a goal disallowed for offside late on, was a creative force throughout but the Germany forward was also wasteful.
When Newcastle did mount a rare attack, Chelsea were solid at the back.
Antonio Rudiger, starting in place of 36-year-old Thiago Silva who had played for Brazil in midweek, marked his first league start of the season with an important block to deny Allan Saint-Maximin as the Blues chalked up a sixth clean sheet in seven games.
Abraham’s second goal in as many league games made sure of the points before Mount went close to adding a third.
Wilson a big miss for Magpies
Without leading scorer Callum Wilson, Newcastle failed to score for the second successive game.
Wilson, missing with a hamstring injury, has netted six of his side’s 10 top-flight goals this season but Newcastle never recovered after a slow start.
Darlow kept his side in the match with some excellent saves before Abraham’s second-half finish killed the game off.
Newcastle’s cause was not helped by the loss of Jamaal Lascelles to injury, the captain failing to appear at the start of the second half after going down heavily.
Steve Bruce sent on Miguel Almiron, who only arrived back from international duty with Paraguay on Friday, and Andy Carroll to try and rescue a point.
Carroll looked set to score his first goal since returning to Newcastle for a second spell 15 months ago, but his attempt in injury time was deflected wide for a corner.
Home discomforts for Magpies – the stats
- Newcastle have lost five of their last seven home matches in the Premier League.
- Since the start of 2019-20, Tammy Abraham has scored 23 goals in all competitions, 11 more than any other Chelsea player.
- Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has won just two of his 24 Premier League games as manager against Chelsea.
- Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy has seven clean sheets in nine appearances for Chelsea in all competitions.
- Since his debut in September 2014, no Premier League player has scored more own goals in the competition than Federico Fernandez (5 – level with Lewis Dunk).