Yedlin’s own goal keeps Chelsea’s run in­tact

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL -

DE­AN­DRE YEDLIN’S late own goal pre­served Chelsea’s per­fect start to the new Premier League sea­son as stub­born New­cas­tle United saw a point snatched from their grasp.

The Mag­pies thought they had banked a point when sub­sti­tute Joselu headed home an 83rd­minute equaliser to can­cel out Eden Haz­ard’s penalty seven min­utes ear­lier.

How­ever, their joy was short­lived when Yedlin could only help Mar­cos Alonso’s drive into his own net with three min­utes re­main­ing as Rafael Ben­itez’s ul­tra-de­fen­sive mas­ter plan failed to deny the vis­i­tors a first league win at St James’ Park since De­cem­ber 2011 in front of a crowd of 51,791.

Eye­brows were raised be­fore kick-off when New­cas­tle cap­tain Ja­maal Las­celles’ name did not ap­pear on the teamsheet amid re­ports of a train­ing ground dis- agree­ment with his man­ager, al­though when asked about the de­fender’s ab­sence in a pre-match tele­vi­sion in­ter­view, Ben­itez re­sponded: “We have enough cen­tre-backs, that’s it.”

The Mag­pies lined up in a 5-4-1 for­ma­tion in an at­tempt to sti­fle Chelsea and al­though they saw lit­tle of the ball in the early stages it was they who mus­tered the first shot of the game when Ja­cob Mur­phy forced Kepa Ar­riz­a­bal­aga into a save with a skid­ding ef­fort from dis­tance.

With Jorginho af­forded time and space to prompt from cen­tral mid­field and Haz­ard and Ma­teo Ko­vacic buzzing around ahead of him, the vis­i­tors were dom­i­nat­ing in terms of both pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory, but with­out cre­at­ing mean­ing­ful open­ings.

De­fender An­to­nio Rudi­ger lashed a snap­shot well wide amid a goal­mouth scram­ble, but as the half ap­proached its mid-point, keeper Martin Dubravka had not had a save to make.

Chelsea cap­tain Ce­sar Azpilicueta forced Dubravka into a smart save five min­utes af­ter the restart with the Mag­pies re­treat­ing deep into their own half, but with Ben­itez’s men re­peat­edly squan­der­ing pos­ses­sion there was lit­tle respite.

Rudi­ger was un­for­tu­nate not to score when he rat­tled the bar with a 30-yard thun­der­bolt.

How­ever, the dead­lock was bro­ken with 76 min­utes gone when Alonso went to ground un­der debu­tant Fabian Schar’s chal­lenge and ref­eree Paul Tier­ney pointed to the spot, with Haz­ard oblig­ing em­phat­i­cally from 12 yards.

The Mag­pies were back in it within seven min­utes.

Chelsea protested af­ter Yedlin ap­peared to catch Olivier Giroud with an el­bow.

How­ever, Yedlin was al­lowed to play on and he crossed for Joselu to send a bul­let header into the top cor­ner de­spite Kepa’s best ef­forts.

How­ever, Yedlin’s af­ter­noon took a turn for the worse when he in­ad­ver­tently turned Alonso’s shot past Dubravka to hand Chelsea vic­tory, their third in as many matches.

PIC­TURE: OWEN HUMPHREYS/PA WIRE

DE­JECTED: New­cas­tle United’s De­An­dre Yedlin lies for­lorn on the St James’ Park turf af­ter scor­ing an own goal that would give Chelsea a 2-1 Premier League vic­tory yes­ter­day.

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