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English Premiership

Chelsea thrash woeful Newcastle

Costa slides the ball home to give Chelsea an early lead

Costa slides the ball home to give Chelsea an early lead

LONDON, February 13 – A horror opening quarter display cost relegation-threatened Newcastle as the Magpies were beaten 5-1 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Newcastle found themselves three goals down after only 17 minutes as Diego Costa, Pedro and Willian all struck for the hosts.

Pedro scored a second before Bertrand Traore added a late fifth, before Andros Townsend grabbed the Magpies a consolation with his first goal for the club.

The result marked Chelsea first league victory at Stamford Bridge since December 19, while the pressure is likely to heap on Newcastle boss Steve McClaren, whose side remain in the relegation zone, despite a healthy backing in the January transfer market.

Chelsea fans concerned about their side’s home form would have struggled to believe what they were seeing in the first half at Stamford Bridge, as positive play from the Blues, coupled with calamitous defending from the visitors, ensured the result was put to bed with less than 20 minutes played.

Spain striker Costa, enjoying a rich vein of form, opened the scoring after only five minutes, sliding the ball past Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot after being played though by Willian to notch his seventh goal in his last eight league matches.

And Guus Hiddink’s men doubled their lead only four minutes later. Former Barcelona forward Pedro intercepted Rolando Aarons’ slack pass and drove towards the Toon goal before firing home.

Newcastle’s travelling support must have been wishing they had stayed at home when Costa returned the favour to Willian, squaring for the Brazilian to finish from close range.

The only concern for interim boss Hiddink would have been an injury to captain John Terry. With Chelsea already without Kurt Zouma, the Blues were forced to reshuffle their defence when the centre-half had to be replaced by left-back Baba Rahman.

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To former England manager McClaren’s relief, Newcastle slightly improved after the break – although they could hardly have played any worse.

Aleksandar Mitrovic and Jonjo Shelvey were both thwarted by blocks, but Chelsea extended their lead when Pedro collected a pass from compatriot Cesc Fabregas to bag his second of the game.

A fourth goal allowed Hiddink to rest some of his stars, with Costa – wearing a protective mask after breaking his nose – was replaced by youngster Bertrand Traore,who added a late fifth after good work from Cesar Azpilicueta.

The loyal visiting fans at least had something to cheer when England international Townsend cut inside from the right to beat Thibaut Courtois from the edge of the area.

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