A second home win in the space of four days was secured thanks to an Eden Hazard brace and Alvaro Morata’s 10th goal of the season as we came from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.
The visitors had taken an early lead through Dwight Gayle but we quickly hit back when Hazard, who produced another superb display, fired home from an angle after Ciaran Clark’s clearance had fallen invitingly for him.
The game was turned on its head 12 minutes before the break as Morata headed home from a Victor Moses cross and the third goal we had been threatening for much of the second half came from the boot of Hazard, who calmly dispatched a penalty which had been won by Victor Moses.
The victory extends our unbeaten Premier League run to seven matches and we continue to maintain the pressure on those teams above us in the table.
Having come on as a substitute in midweek, Moses started for the first time since our away game at Crystal Palace in mid-October and Cesar Azpilicueta returned to the side, with Gary Cahill dropping down to the bench. Danny Drinkwater also came back into the starting line-up, with Hazard, another player who was rested in midweek, partnering Morata in attack. Michy Batshuayi, who has been out injured since the last international break, was named among the subs.
Drinkwater created a panic inside the Newcastle penalty area early on after getting forward from midfield and fizzing the ball into the danger zone, with Clark clearing, but it was the visitors who struck the first blow after just 12 minutes.
Jacob Murphy helped the ball on after Gayle had beaten Christensen in the air to a pass out from the back. As Marcos Alonso attempted to play it back to Thibaut Courtois, Murphy nipped in and although the Chelsea goalkeeper did enough to thwart the forward, the loose ball landed at the feet of Gayle who gratefully tapped into an empty net.
As the Blues looked to hit back Hazard, who had got in behind to race on to a brilliant Cesc Fabregas pass, was denied by a one-handed save by Karl Darlow and moments later Morata felt he should have been awarded a penalty after being clattered by the Newcastle keeper, who got nowhere near the ball.
Christensen almost equalised when he headed a brilliant N’Golo Kante cross against the post but from our next attack parity was restored.
Azpilicueta, as he has so often this season, attempted to pick out Morata with a cross from deep, and although Clark beat the Spaniard to it, his clearance sat up invitingly for Hazard who dispatched his first-time strike from an angle.
It was the Belgian’s seventh goal of the season and the perfect response to Newcastle’s early opener.
It was Conte’s side who were making the majority of the running after we’d drawn level but despite our dominance in terms of possession, Newcastle were defending well. Our creative players were being forced to move the ball quickly and pull the visiting defenders out of position as we attempted to find an opening, which eventually arrived just after the half-hour mark.
As the ball was worked out to Moses on the right-hand side, he made himself a yard and whipped the ball across the face of goal where Morata headed into the back of the net to give us the lead.
A quick counter attack, sparked by Drinkwater, could have led to a third for the Blues but as Hazard and Fabregas combined to tee up Moses, Newcastle had enough men back behind the ball to crowd the Nigerian out and his subsequent delivery was easily cleared.
Fabregas then almost picked out the run of Hazard with a trademark incisive pass from out on the right-hand side, but the Belgian was unable to bring it under control and the ball rolled straight through to Darlow in the Newcastle goal.
Such was our dominance after drawing level, Courtois, after a busy opening to the game, had become a virtual spectator for much of the first half, with Newcastle unable to threaten since taking the lead.
We were unable to make the most of a free-kick, awarded for a Clark foul on Hazard, in added time, but after a difficult start to the game we headed in for the break with a 2-1 advantage.
The Blues started the second half brightly and had a great opportunity to extend our advantage soon after the restart when Christensen was allowed to bring the ball out from deep and release Moses with a superb pass in behind Matt Ritchie. Moses’s delivery was a good one but, under pressure from two Newcastle defenders, Morata was unable to find the finish.
Hazard, who saw his strike from outside the box roll just past the post having taken a deflection off Clark and wrong-footed Darlow, then went down in the box as he attempted to wriggle away from three Newcastle defenders, but despite the home supporters’ protests, the referee saw nothing in it and waved the appeals away.
With just a one-goal advantage, however, Newcastle remained very much in the game and after Azpilicueta did well to intercept a dangerous Murphy delivery, Ayoze Perez fired just wide of the far post.
Moses headed into the arms of Darlow from an Azpilicueta cross as we went in search of a third goal and Hazard, who impressed once again, then forced the keeper into a save low down to his left as he attempted to place one in the far corner.
The Chelsea number 10 was at the heart of all our best attacking play and after driving forward from deep he exchanged passes with Drinkwater but, with just Darlow to beat, he was unable to get enough on the ball as it came back into his path.
The Chelsea pressure was beginning to mount and we were handed an opportunity to put daylight between ourselves and the visitors when Moses, who had been picked out by a delightful Fabregas ball, was brought down by Ritchie inside the box.
The ref had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and with Hazard entrusted with taking the kick there was never any doubt about the outcome, the Belgian stepping forward and producing a deft chip straight down the middle of the goal, giving Darlow no chance.
Moments later Hazard was denied a hat-trick by a fine Darlow save and it was to be his last involvement of note as both he and Fabregas were replaced by Willian and Tiemoue Bakayokowith 12 minutes remaining.
The third goal allowed us to see out the remainder of the game with minimal fuss and it was another afternoon full of positives for Conte and his team.
Attention now turns to another home game, this time against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, on Tuesday, where a victory would guarantee we finish top of the group.