Chelsea battled back from two goals down to draw against a resurgent Newcastle United side in a pulsating clash.
The Magpies, who are winless all season, showed their intent from the off but were gifted two goals from sloppy Chelsea defencing as Perez and Wijnaldum got one either side of the half-time whistle, but late drama from Ramires and Willian mean the shares are spoiled.
Newcastle have won the last two meetings with Chelsea at St James’ Park and with the Magpies winless all season, it was bound to be another tough meeting for Chelsea against their bogey side.
Newcastle came out of the blocks with plenty of fire and good pressing and it was sure to be a long half for the Blues, who were once again benching John Terry.
Zouma, his replacement, did have the game’s first chance, though, with his thunderbolt of a free-kick directed just wide. Had it gone in it would have been similar to the free-kicks Chelsea fans have become accustomed too from the days of Alex.
Remy, once of Newcastle, was booed with every touch but nearly silenced the crowd, who were as fired up as their players, but Ivanovic’s cross came at too much pace for the Frenchman to control and so a quick sticking of the leg out merited no more than a goal-kick.
But then came Newcastle. Wijnaldum posed an ominous threat down Ivanovic’s side, beating the untouchable Serb and whilst Mitrovic beat Cahill to the ball too, thankfully for the visitors the ball flew wide.
A second chance came moments later when Sissoko was afforded far too much space down Azpilicueta’s side, but he dragged his shot wide. The defence all round was poor for Chelsea after last week’s great work at Arsenal.
With Chelsea being carved open left and right, it was down to centre ground to get the next battering. Perez and Janmaat both had glorious opportunities in quick succession, but Begovic was thankful the shots were not more testing.
The next knocking on the door would deliver a goal, however. Zouma left Ivanovic to deal with Perez with the Serb equally work-shy, and when no-one actually did pick Perez up, the Newcastle striker sent his fans into delirium with a well-controlled half-volley.
Fabregas did have a few long-range shots sandwiched in between Newcastle attacks but the Toon were on their game after a very poor start to the season, so it was left to Chelsea to take the game to Newcastle and hope their energy levels dropped in the second half.
Krul saved from Remy at point-blank range, but he was offside anyway, but the next chance he did have was headed over.
Chelsea fought for the match like their life depended on it and it was clear Mourinho’s desire to win when Falcao and Willian were to come on after like nine minutes of the second half and no goal recovered.
Instead it got worse. Against the run of play and from a controversial corner, Wijnaldum was let free by Fabregas and the ex-PSV ace directed home.
It looked to be all plain-sailing from the buoyant Newcastle side but Ramires had something to say. In his 150th Premier League game, the Brazilian unleashed an unstoppable drive to get Chelsea back in the game. It had to take something special as Chelsea could not break Newcastle down inside the penalty area, so Ramires delivered the goods from outside.
Hazard slalomed his way into a shooting opportunity but it was blocked by Krul’s men, who were having a fine defensive day in the office.
Pedro should have equalised when clean through but blazed over — a lot more would have been expected from the former Barcelona ace.
But it was another right-winger who did equalise, with Willian’s free-kick confusion Krul and going straight in, identical to a similar Willian free-kick in the Champions League.
Newcastle were deflated and Ramires could have snatched it from another Willian free-kick but, with Newcastle dominating the first half and Chelsea the second, a draw was fair.
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Man of the Match
RAMIRES: He was only on for 17 minutes but he revolutionised the match, and it is a pity that he and his compatriot Willian did not start the match because the result may have been different. His energy is well documented and it caught Newcastle by surprise as they tired at the end of the second half, but his lethal strike was definitely surprising. 7/10
Mourinho was acknowledged it was a game of two halves: “In the first 10 minutes, I would rate my team -1 out of 10. In every aspect of the game, we were bad. In the second half, it was really good, we were dynamic. I’m very happy with the second half but really disappointed with the first half. I have to understand why a team can do this.”
McLaren saw the team’s progress: “We were so close to a great win. We looked a team today. That was more like it. That’s the benchmark now. That’s the standard, that’s what you need to give the crowd. Inch by inch that belief will grow.”
Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had four years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.
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