The Newcastle United taunt that riled Chelsea fans as long unbeaten run ends
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Eddie Howe’s side were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea on what was the home side’s first match at the stadium since Roman Abramovich, their owner, was sanctioned for his ties with president Vladimir Putin in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The winning goal was scored by Kai Havertz, who was fortunate to stay on the field after elbowing Dan Burn. United also felt that they were denied a clear penalty.
Visiting fans taunted the home support – they suggested Mike Ashley as a potential buyer – but for much of the game they simply lauded a team which was bottom of the Premier League following Howe’s first game in charge in early November.
Today, the club is 14th in the table – and nine points above the relegation zone.
Newcastle director Jamie Reuben, linked with a Chelsea bid earlier in the week, was at the game to show his support with fellow co-owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi.
Head coach Howe, without Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Willock because of illness, made four changes. Captain Jamaal Lascelles came into the starting XI with Sean Longstaff, Javier Manquillo and Miguel Almiron.
It had been strangely subdued outside Stamford Bridge, ringed by extra security guards, in the ours before kick-off. There was also a report of a clash between Newcastle and Chelsea fans.
The stadium, which has seen so much success during the Abramovic era, was anything but subdued at kick-off time.
There were Brazilian and Saudi Arabian flags in the away end, which held 3,000 travelling fans.
The sanctions against Abramovich have again brought questions of ownership into focus just over five months after the club, now 80%-owner by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, was finally sold by Ashley.
United fans taunted home supporters about the financial problems facing their club. On the pitch, Chelsea had the bulk of the possession, though they struggled to break the visitors down.
Newcastle also had their moments with the ball, and Burn headed narrowly wide from a right-wing Matt Targett cross.
United fans chanted “Mike Ashley, he’s coming for you” at Chelsea supporters later in the half, and home supporters responded with a taunt of “Boris Johnson, he’s coming for you”.
The half, which saw Havertz floor Burn with his elbow, ended goalless, and Bruno Guimaraes, making only his second start for the club since his January move from Olympique Lyonnais, flashed a shot across the face goal of after the restart.
Newcastle also had a strong penalty claim waved away after Jacob Murphy went down in the box under a clumsy challenge from Trevoh Chalobah, and Hakim Ziyech was booked after catching Guimaraes with a high boot.
Howe sent on Allan Saint-Maximin, back from illness, in the 68th minute, and United were put under pressure in the latter stages of the game, but they were organised and disciplined without the ball, and they continued to frustrate the European champions.
Havertz, however, got ahead of Burn in the 89th minute to claim all three points for Chelsea.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka, Manquillo (Fraser, 89), Schar, Lascelles, Burn, Targett, Longstaff, Guimaraes, Murphy (Gayle, 89), Almiron (Saint-Maximin, 69), Wood. Subs not used: Darlow, Gillespie, Dummett, Ritchie, Krafth, Gayle, De Bolle.