It was a Krul ending for Newcastle who had to settle for just a point after they let a 2-0 lead slip away against champions Chelsea, who were utterly awful for large periods of the match, thanks to two wonder goals from two substitutes.
This was a big chance for Chelsea to close the gap on Manchester City and the teams at the top of the table after they lost 4-1 away to Tottenham at White Hart Lane earlier in the day. Had Chelsea beaten Newcastle the gap would have closed to five points on City and six to top of the table Manchester United. Sadly it hasn’t.
Make no mistake about it, Chelsea were awful in this match and Newcastle fully deserve their point. If anything Newcastle will be disappointed not to have come away with all three.
For all the possession that Chelsea had, they failed to create any real chances. They were devoid of pace. They were devoid of fight/passion. And they were devoid of ideas.
All Chelsea seemed to do was pass the ball about in front of the Newcastle penalty area before losing possession as soon as they tried to penetrate the Newcastle defence who then looked to try to break.
Newcastle took the shortly before halftime through Ayoze Perez after some shambolic defending by Chelsea. Perez managed to find space between Branislav Ivanovic and Kurt Zouma who see confused about who was marking him, took a touch to control the ball before striking it off the post and into the back of the net.
It was some truly horrendous defending.
On the hour mark Chelsea’s day looked like it was going from bad to worse as Georginio Wijnaldum doubled Newcastle’s lead getting on the end of a header after losing Cesc Fabregas who was marking him.
Eden Hazard has to take a lot of responsibility for the second goal after losing the ball high up the pitch that put his team under pressure resulting in the series of corners that eventually led to the goal. He kept trying to run with the ball and go past people instead of passing to a teammate which he could have done on a couple of occasions.
With little more than ten minute to go Chelsea got a goal back through Ramires, who came on as a substitute, when he hit a rocket of a shot into the top corner from outside the area. It was one of the few times that Chelsea stopped trying to pass their way through on goal and went direct instead.
Then with less than five minutes to go Chelsea pulled level thanks to Willian do a repeat free-kick of the one he scored against Maccabi Tel Aviv a week or so ago. His free-kick went in at the far post missing everyone as it went through, Ramires though challenged for it which may have been enough to put Tim Krul.
In between both goals Pedro had a fantastic chance to score as he was one-on-one with the on-rushing Krul but sent his effort way way over the bar. It was a brilliant pass by Fabregas to send him on his way and he really should have done better.
Chelsea were lucky to escape St James Park with a point. Newcastle were easily the better side for 70 minutes but committed the usual sin of dropping deeper and deeper to defend their lead as the game worn on which allowed Chelsea to pile on the pressure.
At 2-0 with 15 minutes to go this should have been Steve McClaren’s first win as Newcastle manager so Newcastle fans will be disappointed with the result. However the performance was easily their best of the season, they controlled the game with large parts and made Chelsea look ordinary. The players looked liked they cared. They had plenty of fight. Both of which they have been lacking in recent weeks.
As for Chelsea, just when it looks like they have turned a corner this happens. This was easily their worst performance of the season which is saying something. No pace. No passion. No ideas. That sums up Chelsea. Changes need to be made.