Wil­lian gem sinks New­cas­tle as Chelsea ce­ment fourth place

The Borneo Post - - SPORT -

LON­DON: Mau­r­izio Sarri warned his Chelsea stars to im­prove their men­tal­ity after Wil­lian’s sub­lime strike sealed a hard- fought 2-1 win over strug­gling New­cas­tle on Satur­day.

Sarri’s side took the lead through Pe­dro’s early goal, but Ciaran Clark snatched a shock equaliser be­fore half-time.

With Chelsea fans be­gin­ning to lose pa­tience at their team’s lat­est splut­ter­ing home dis­play, Wil­lian lifted the mood in the nick of time with his su­perb sec­ond-half curler.

Fourth- placed Chelsea have won five of their last seven league matches and sit six points clear of fifth-placed Arse­nal, who lost at West Ham ear­lier on Satur­day.

But, while Chelsea re­main in con­trol of the race to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League, this was a far from con­vinc­ing per­for­mance.

Labour­ing to beat third-bot­tom New­cas­tle showed how far Chelsea have to go to bridge the gap in class to lead­ers Liver­pool and cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City.

Sarri ad­mit­ted he was frus­trated with the way Chelsea took their foot off the gas after the open­ing goal.

“We started well for 10 min­utes but after the goal we thought ‘now it is easy’, but it wasn’t,” Sarri said.

“We slept for 25 min­utes and then we were in trou­ble. We were bet­ter in the sec­ond half but we need to im­prove the men­tal re­ac­tion.

“It is very dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand. We stopped play­ing and then we had prob­lems.”

Sarri also re­vealed he has told Chelsea’s hi­er­ar­chy he needs a new mid­fielder to re­place Cesc Fabre­gas, who joined Monaco on Fri­day.

“Jorginho was in trou­ble and on the bench there wasn’t a player for that po­si­tion. I need an op­tion for that po­si­tion,” he sad.

“The club knows very well my opin­ion. It de­pends on the club de­ci­sion. I can­not do any­thing more.”

An­other win­ter of dis­con­tent is brew­ing for New­cas­tle, wo have won only once in their last nine league games.

The Mag­pies’ 18 points is their low­est tally after 22 matches of a top-flight sea­son since they were rel­e­gated in 1988- 89.

“We have to be bet­ter than three teams and if we play like to­day we can do it,” Ben­itez said of New­cas­tle’s rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle.

Tues­day’s 1- 0 de­feat against Tot­ten­ham in the League Cup semi-fi­nal first leg was the lat­est dis­play of at­tack­ing im­po­tence from mis­fir­ing Chelsea, who had failed to score in their last two home league games.

But it took only nine min­utes for the Blues to go in front as New­cas­tle’s five-man de­fence was carved open with ease.

A fine long pass from Chelsea de­fender David Luiz caught Clark flat-footed.

Pe­dro timed his run be­hind Clark per­fectly and held off the cen­tre- back’s weak at­tempt to re­cover as he lofted a del­i­cate chip over New­cas­tle keeper Martin Dubravka for his sev­enth goal of the sea­son.

Chelsea dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion in the first half-hour, but they switched off at the back as New­cas­tle al­most snatched an equaliser.

Sa­lomon Ron­don f licked a header to­wards Ay­oze Perez and he ac­cel­er­ated away from An­to­nio Rudi­ger, only to shoot woe­fully wide with just Kepa Ar­riz­a­bal­aga to beat.

It was a warn­ing that Sarri’s men failed to heed and in the 40th minute New­cas­tle were level.

Matt Ritchie curled over an outswing­ing cor­ner and Clark mus­cled past Luiz to power a su­perb header past Kepa from 12 yards.

Once again, Sarri stub­bornly stuck to his ex­per­i­ment with Eden Haz­ard as Chelsea’s cen­tral striker de­spite the Bel­gian star’s dis­like of the tac­tic.

Haz­ard has now scored just four times in his last 17 games, sug­gest­ing he is much more ef­fec­tive in his nat­u­ral role on the flanks.

With frus­tra­tion mount­ing, a mis­placed pass by Jorginho trig­gered an­gry moans from Chelsea fans, who booed the team off at half-time.

The at­mos­phere was on the verge of turn­ing even more toxic un­til Wil­lian came to the res­cue in the 57th minute.

Teed up by Haz­ard at last mak­ing an in­ci­sive burst, Wil­lian cut back in­side two New­cas­tle de­fend­ers on the left side of the area be­fore curl­ing a mas­ter­ful fin­ish into the far cor­ner. — AFP

Mo­hamed Salah scores the open­ing goal from the penalty spot dur­ing the English Premier League foot­ball match be­tween Brighton and Hove Al­bion and Liver­pool at the Amer­i­can Ex­press Com­mu­nity Sta­dium in Brighton. — AFP photo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.