Jimmy and Bernard Give Chelsea The Blues  (Sky Sports)

Newcastle United 2 Chelsea 1

Olivier Bernard
Bernard: Second goal of the season
Newcastle  2-1  Chelsea 
Hasselbaink og 31
Bernard 53
  Lampard 37
Barclaycard Premiership, March 1

Richard Jolly reports

Like their manager, Newcastle just keep on going. Written off in the Champions League and rarely described as title challengers, they are specialising in confounding expectations - outside Tyneside anyway.

After beating Bayer Leverkusen with a flourish, they needed more luck and steel to edge past Chelsea but now have a seven-point cushion over Claudio Ranieri's side and have all but assured Champions League
football again next year.

Chelsea, with similar ambitions themselves, starter with vigour, matched Newcastle throughout and scored two of the three goals - but lost.

That they did owed much to a mixture of the farcical - a spectacular Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink own goal - and the finesse, Hugo Viana and Olivier Bernard combining for the Frenchman's classy strike. 

In between, Frank Lampard - who matched the outstanding Kieron Dyer in a fiercely competitive midfield battle - levelled expertly after Shay Given flapped at a Hasselbaink corner.

There were evenly-matched contests all over the pitch. Veteran strikers Hasselbaink and Alan Shearer had cause to forget their performances, the Chelsea man heading past Carlo Cudicini and his Newcastle counterpart stumbling when presented with his best chance; both were overshadowed by younger and livelier partners, Craig Bellamy and Eidur Gudjohnsen.

And in defence, Chelsea's acting skipper John Terry was pitched against his potential rival for an England place, Jonathan Woodgate; both impressed though the ever-excellent William Gallas was arguably superior to either.

Belatedly, Woodgate was making his Newcastle debut more than a month after his arrival; the first repayment from his 9 million fee was a well-judged tackle on Jesper Gronkjaer after he kept pace with the quick Dane.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Hasselbaink scores his own goal

His team-mates were less dutiful, leaving Eidur Gudjohnsen unmarked to miscue a volley wide from Gronkjaer's cross and needing Shay Given to come out of his box to head away from Hasselbaink.

Woodgate's introduction was one of six changes by Sir Bobby Robson, resulting in a subdued start which belied the recent optimism on Tyneside. Viana and Nolberto Solano, both returning from injury, were quiet on the flanks, though both later made significant contributions, and the indefatigable Dyer was the main source of impetus.

And Newcastle's only chance was fashioned by Craig Bellamy and fired wide by Viana until Hasselbaink launched himself at Solano's cross and powered a header past Carlo Cudicini.

Chelsea were quick to respond, Gudjohnsen's shot on the turn testing Given and then Lampard's inch-perfect drive beating him from 14 yards.

Others were more wasteful, Gronkjaer firing straight at the Newcastle keeper and then depriving himself of a shooting chance with a poor touch; Hasselbaink's, though, was worse, taking him away from goal after Lampard's quick free kick exploited the space between Newcastle's back four and goalkeeper.

And Newcastle were posing an increasing threat, a Gary Speed header requiring Mario Melchiot to clear off his line and Bellamy's low volley being saved by Cudicini.

Then Viana, whose slide rule pass had given Shearer a chance the Newcastle captain uncharacteristically squandered, picked out Bernard with a similarly astute ball and the left back delicately lifted the ball over Cudicini and in.

Lampard almost scored a second equaliser within minutes, Given doing well to keep out his header, but with Titus Bramble strengthening the Newcastle defence and, alongside Woodgate, providing a preview of the Magpies defence for a decade, chances were at a premium.

Claudio Ranieri, who had limited himself to one change to Robson's six, then made a double substitution and it almost reaped dividends when Gianfranco Zola's fine ball created an opportunity Boudewijn Zenden curled just wide.

Gudjohnsen was also off target and Zola fired over in injury time, but Newcastle held on for a win which puts them closer to the leadership of the Premiership than fifth place - which surely makes them serious title challengers.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Olivier Bernard (Newcastle) - A superb goal and an important performance for Newcastle.

Newcastle: Given, Hughes, O'Brien, Woodgate, Bernard, Solano (Griffin 79), Dyer (Ameobi 88), Speed, Viana (Bramble 72), Shearer, Bellamy.
Subs Not Used: LuaLua, Caig.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Melchiot, Gallas, Terry, Babayaro (Cole 77), Gronkjaer (Zola 67), Morris, Lampard, Stanic (Zenden 67), Hasselbaink, Gudjohnsen.
Subs Not Used: Evans, Huth.
Booked: Cole.

Att: 52,157
Ref: J Winter (Cleveland).

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