Written by T T Tockhorst, CNN
Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to two points over Liverpool after the league leaders came from behind to win 3-0 at Newcastle United on Sunday.
It was the heaviest defeat suffered by the home side in over a decade and was Newcastle’s sixth straight Premier League loss.
Antonio Conte’s side were trailing 1-0 at halftime when Alvaro Morata headed in a corner by Willian at the end of the opening period, for his seventh league goal of the season. Morata sealed the victory after N’Golo Kante had volleyed home a pass from Eden Hazard.
Chelsea now have an 11-game unbeaten run in the league and have opened up a 15-point lead over Liverpool after the Reds were held to a 2-2 draw by Cardiff City.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said the Magpies “didn’t deserve” to be trailing at half-time.
“It was a tough game for sure because they put us under pressure,” Conte said on Sky Sports. “We paid for their mistakes, and the fantastic performance from the players. We deserved to win this game. It was very tough, we showed great will and commitment.”
Conte made a number of changes to his starting XI, while Newcastle began without Jonjo Shelvey, Jonjo Shelvey, Joselu, Florian Lejeune and Isaac Hayden, leaving Jonjo Shelvey as the only starting member of their side from the last game.
The visitors got off to the perfect start in the seventh minute when N’Golo Kante knocked in a close-range volley from a corner, but Newcastle responded with a pair of chances in quick succession.
Shelvey had one shot saved by Thibaut Courtois, while the Belgium goalkeeper recovered well to push Keisuke Honda’s drive wide as the visitors started to press and threaten.
The French midfielder also went close to getting on the scoresheet, missing a penalty after a foul by DeAndre Yedlin on Kante, while the latter was shown a yellow card by referee Bobby Madley.
Kante’s presence was obviously having an impact on Newcastle as soon as he went off the pitch, with Willian looping a header over Matz Sels to level the scores in the 19th minute.
Morata was able to finally break the deadlock in the 51st minute after a stunning pass from Hazard, picking up the rebound after his initial shot had hit the post.
Chelsea added a third in the 75th minute after an error from Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. The Slovakian goalkeeper allowed a low free kick from Hazard to sail under his body and into the net, with a yard to spare.
Newcastle brought on Dwight Gayle and Yoshinori Muto in the closing stages, but by then the game was already well beyond them.
The latest blow comes after a disastrous week for Rafa Benitez, who took the Magpies into the Europa League and the Carabao Cup quarterfinals before Saturday’s poor display.
The former Liverpool boss was the only manager to be offered a new contract by the Toon over the summer and sees his side sitting 17th in the league table.
“We weren’t in the game and for sure they can kill you with one goal, but also we made some mistakes at 1-0,” Benitez said. “You have to do better and move to the next game.
“I know if you give a lot of chances to Chelsea, they are capable of scoring the goal but we were a little bit nervous. It is not the first time this happened.”