London, United Kingdom, Oct 19 – Frank Lampard urged Chelsea to build on their rise into the Premier League’s top four after Marcos Alonso clinched a 1-0 win that silenced the Newcastle fans who jeered the Spanish defender at Stamford Bridge.
Alonso’s blistering strike ended Newcastle’s stubborn resistence with 17 minutes left and provided the perfect riposte to the taunts from the stands.
The Chelsea left-back spent the second half of the 2013-14 season on-loan at Newcastle’s arch rivals Sunderland and played in a derby win at St James’ Park.
The Magpies supporters clearly hadn’t forgotten as they booed him throughout Saturday’s match.
But Alonso’s first goal since April gave him the last laugh as Chelsea made it five successive victories in all competitions.
After winning just two of their opening eight games under Lampard, the Blues are beginning to find their stride.
The mature way Lampard’s young side kept probing and found a way to beat obdurate Newcastle bodes well for the future.
And for only the second time in Lampard’s 13 games in charge, Chelsea kept a clean-sheet as the Blues boss celebrated just his second home league.
“In the first half we were a little bit safe, a little bit slow. We didn’t play with enough urgency or risk. That was the message at half-time,” Lampard said.
“We were much better in the second half. You saw spirit and energy in the team. We could have won by more to make the last 10 minutes more comfortable.
“We had a bit of a problem in the game and we solved it. The players need to be brave and confident. I’m pleased with that.”
While a title challenge is likely to be beyond Chelsea, they look well equipped to challenge for a top four finish.
“We know we want to be challenging in the top four. From the slightly difficult start we had, it is a good sign we are moving in the right direction,” Lampard said.
“That must only give us the hunger to move on because football can change in an instant.”
Newcastle have now won just one of their last 26 league visits to Chelsea after a defeat that punctured the momentum from their 1-0 win against Manchester United before the international break.
Steve Bruce’s side are back in the relegation zone and the Newcastle boss blamed referee Andre Marriner.
“I thought it was a blatant foul on Joelinton in front of us in the lead-up to the goal. When you are coming here you need those decisions to go for you,” he said.
“We have had a really tough start in terms of who we have played. Now we’ve got a run of games against teams who will be around us. It is a vitally important time.”
– Homegrown charge –
Fikayo Tomori, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham all featured for Chelsea, making it five English players in their starting line-up in the Premier League for the first time since February 2013.
Mount led the charge of Chelsea’s homegrown youngsters when the midfielder collected Hudson-Odoi’s pass and spun for a fierce shot that was pushed away by Martin Dubravka.
Alonso earned a yellow card for a crunching challenge on DeAndre Yedlin, prompting a barrage of abuse from the Newcastle supporters crammed into one corner of the Shed End.
With nine goals already this term, Abraham was inches away from getting into double figures when his header from Willian’s corner crashed against the bar.
Abraham was narrowly off-target with another towering header from Chelsea’s eighth corner.
Hudson-Odoi was a constant menace with his mesmerising bursts and when his cross found Pulisic, the United States winger was denied by Dubravka’s fine scrambling save.
Chelsea’s pressure finally told in the 73rd minute when Hudson-Odoi teed up Alonso, unmarked inside the Newcastle area, for a powerful effort that flashed under Dubravka’s hand into the far corner.