Fans chant against Mike Ashley as Newcastle slip into relegation zone

Newcastle United are back in the Premier League's relegation zone after a defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Saturday, 12th January 2019, 18:23 pm
Updated Saturday, 12th January 2019, 18:29 pm
Ciaran Clark, far right, celebrates his goal.

Rafa Benitez's side slipped into the drop zone before this evening's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.

And the club couldn't climb back out, despite a gutsy performance against Maurizio Sarri's side.

Ciaran Clark cancelled out Pedro's early goal with a header before the break, but Willian claimed all three points for the home side with a second-half strike,

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The result has left Newcastle a point adrift of safety ahead of next weekend's game against Cardiff City at St James's Park.

United owner Mike Ashley was at Stamford Bridge to see the game.

And visiting fans again chanted against Ashley, who is yet to sanction any January reinforcements for manager Benitez's squad.

Injury-hit Benitez, without Mohamed Diame, Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Sung-yueng, handed midfielder Sean Longstaff his full Premier League debut at Stamford Bridge.

Defender Florian Lejeune also made his first league appearance of the season after recovering from long-term injury.

United, however, got off to the worst possible start.

Benitez's side were undone by a superb eighth-minute ball over the top from David Luiz to Pedro, who got in front of Clark and lifted the ball over Martin Dubravka.

Newcastle were down, but not out. They steadied themselves after going behind, and they steadily grew in confidence through the first half.

After the half-hour mark, they started to test Chelsea, and Ayoze Perez shot wide after Salomon Rondon flicked on a long ball forward from Dubravka.

The breakthrough came in the 40th minute. Matt Ritchie swung in a corner from in front of the club's travelling fans and Clark got above Luiz to powerful head the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.

There were some nervous moments for Newcastle early in the second half as Chelsea pushed for a second goal.

That goal wasn't long in coming. Hazard played the ball to Willian on the left, and he came inside and beat Dubravka with a right-footed shot which went in off the far post.

Still, Chelsea couldn't see United off entirely, and the visitors prodded and probed away for the rest of the half without really threatening Kepa Arrizabalaga's goal.

CHELSEA: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, David Luiz, Marcos Alonso; Jorginho, Kanté, Kovacic (Barkley, 63); Willian, Hazard (Giroud, 87), Pedro (Hudson-Odoi, 80). Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Emerson, Ampadu.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Yedlin (Manquillo, 82), Lejeune, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie; Atsu, Hayden, Longstaff, Perez (Murphy, 82); Rondon. Subs: Woodman, Sterry, Fernandez, Schar, Joselu.

Goals: Pedro 8, Clark 40, Willian 57

Bookings: Ritchie 24, Jorginho 63

Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire)