Chelsea assistant coach, Steve Holland, praised an improved second half performance as the Blues overcame Newcastle at Stamford Bridge in the Barclays Premier League.
Chelsea 2 – 0 Newcastle
Newcastle had the better of the first half before Oscar scored in the 43rd minute to give Chelsea a half time advantage.
Diego Costa doubled the home side’s lead in the second half sealing a 10th straight home win to send Chelsea two points clear of Manchester city at the top of the table.
Jose Mourinho refused to talk to the media on Friday, after an FA charge for his comments on a perceived campaign against the club, and Holland was again left to deal with media duties.
Holland said: “The team was much better in the second half and controlled the game, playing some good football around their box.
“Today was a 45 minutes which we haven’t had often over the course of the season but we still managed to be 1-0 up.”
Chelsea looked disjointed early on and failed to maintain possession or build significant pressure.
Remy Cabella’s direct running caused problems throughout the first half and Petr Cech had to produce a fine low save to deny the Frenchman after half an hour.
Cech’s inclusion meant Thibaut Courtois was dropped to the bench. However, Holland was quick to point out that the decision was made after Courtois picked up a knock.
He said: “If it had been vital to play he could but when we had Petr Cech as a replacement it was a no-brainer.”
Newcastle again went close as Moussa Sissoko skipped past John Terry and fired a high shot against the post.
Two-minutes before half time Newcastle’s profligacy in front of goal was punished as Chelsea scored from their first attempt on target.
Willian took a quick corner to release Branislav Ivanovic inside the box who squared for Oscar who turned home from close range.
Chelsea started the second half brightly and got their reward when Eden Hazard and Oscar combined to set up Costa for his 15th league goal of the season.
The Spaniard received the ball inside the penalty area, from a delicate Oscar back heal, and struck low past Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal.
Chelsea travel to Swansea next week before title rivals City visit Stamford Bridge at the end of the month.
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