Chelsea fight back to deny spirited Newcastle
Substitutes Ramires and Willian got Chelsea out of
jail as they fought back to draw 2-2 at Newcastle
and deny the hosts their first victory of the
Ayoze Perez and Georginio Wijnaldum had left the
reigning Premier League champions looking at a
fourth successive defeat at St Jamesâ€™ Park, but
the Brazilian duo came off the bench to claim a
2-2 draw as Steve McClaren came within four
minutes of a first league win of his reign.
It was tough on the Magpies, who turned in their
best performance of the campaign to date, but
even the most one-eyed of home fans could not
deny that the visitors deserved something for
their efforts after launching a concerted fightback.
Nevertheless, Jose Mourinhoâ€™s men find
themselves nine points adrift of new leaders
Manchester United after an uncharacteristically
mixed start to the season.
Few of the 48,682 who turned up at St Jamesâ€™
Park expected anything other than a comfortable
away win given the quality of the opposition and
the demoralising run of four defeats on the back
of which McClarenâ€™s men went into the game.
The former England boss had warned that the
change he is trying to implement would be painful
and slow, but he must have been delighted with
what he saw during a pulsating contest.
Newcastle were simply unrecognisable from the
disorganised and toothless rabble which had
succumbed in such tame fashion to Watford a
week earlier and even more horrendously, to
Sheffield Wednesdayâ€™s reserves in midweek.
They had to defend and defend well with
youngster Kevin Mbabu making his league debut
in the unaccustomed role of left-back as Chelsea
moved the ball confidently and counter-attacked
at blistering place.
But with Aleksandar Mitrovic, fresh back from his
three-game ban, giving the Magpies a focal point,
the likes of Vurnon Anita, Perez and Wijnaldum
Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma blasted a fourth-
minute free-kick wide and striker Loic Remy
turned a driven Branislav Ivanovic cross just wide
of Tim Krulâ€™s left post.
But as they grew in confidence, the home side
started to make an impact and Asmir Begovic
was forced into saves from Perez and Daryl
Janmaat in quick succession.
It took a flying save from Krul to keep out Cesc
Fabregasâ€™ 38th-minute piledriver and Pedro
headed wastefully across goal after climbing high
at the far post, but the opening goal eventually
came at the other end with three minutes of the
Perez managed to get himself in between Zouma
and Ivanovic and Anita crossed from deep and
when the Chelsea pair inexplicably failed to
intervene, the striker cushioned the ball before
volleying it past the helpless Begovic.
Newcastle extended their lead on the hour from a
set-piece when Wijnaldum was allowed to meet
Perezâ€™s corner unchallenged and head firmly past
Begovicâ€™s despairing dive.
But Ramires ensured a tense conclusion when he
thumped a 25-yard drive into Krulâ€™s top corner
with 11 minutes remaining, and after Pedro had
wasted a glorious opportunity to level, Willian
deceived Krul with a curling free-kick to snatch a
draw with four minutes remaining.
The visitors might have emerged with all three
points had Krul not clawed out Ramiresâ€™ 89th-
minute header, but that would have been cruel.
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