|Newcastle played with passion on the day but it was not enough to overcome a dominant Chelsea [GALLO/GETTY]|
As the final whistle blew at St James’ Park on Saturday, Andre Villas-Boas would have felt a weight lift from his shoulders.
After home defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool in the English Premier League, the media had already started to question how long the young Portuguese manager would last at Stamford Bridge despite his insistence his job was safe.
The Chelsea manager has one of the hardest jobs in football but a comfortable 3-0 defeat over Newcastle, who have started the season in blistering form, lightens the load and puts his team in high spirits before their important Champions League match against Valencia.
Last week, AVB said that December would be key in deciding the fate of his team so a convincing win over a difficult side has provided the perfect start to the month.
The result lifts Chelsea back up to third in the league although Tottenham could leapfrog the Blues with victory over Bolton later on Saturday.
There was an emotional and special atmosphere at Newcastle’s ground as both set of fans paid their respects to Gary Speed, the former Newcastle player and beloved Wales manager who was found hanged on Sunday at his home.
Newcastle coaches were in tears on the touchlines as footballers and fans reflected on a loss that nobody expected.
The crowd burst into more applause after 11 minutes of the match, singing “There’s only one Gary Speed.” The late Wales manager had worn the No. 11 jersey during his playing days at the northeast team from 1998-2004.
Newcastle who looked desperate to win the game on the occasion were unlucky that an early decision did not go their way.
Chelsea defender David Luiz could easily have been sent off for a professional foul on Demba Ba in the fourth minute – the Brazil defender escaped with a booking even though he was last man.
|Drogba scored opener as Chelsea took crucial three points [GALLO/GETTY]|
Referee Mike Dean’s decision to brandish the yellow card angered the majority of the crowd, Newcastle’s players and their manager Alan Pardew, who was raging in his technical area and was reported to have approached the official at halftime.
It was Didier Drogba who opened the scoring for Chelsea, to cap a dominant first-half showing by the visitors meeting Juan Mata’s cross with a powerful finish in the 38th minute.
Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge wrapped up victory in the final few minutes with goals on the counterattack as a tired Newcastle team fell apart.
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard also had a penalty saved in the 13th, and looked extremely disappointed to be substituted midway through the second half.
After hitting the woodwork three times, Newcastle will count themselves unlucky to have slipped to a first home defeat of the season, relinquishing their place in the Champions League positions to the London club in the process.
However, the result gives Chelsea, and their manager, a crucial boost before they embark on their next challenge – Valencia on Tuesday.