Chelsea delivered a five-star performance as they crushed Newcastle with some superb team goals.
The Blues raced into an early three-goal lead thanks to Costa, Pedro and Willian, and the job was complete with second-half goals by Pedro and Traore, even if Townsend did deny Courtois his clean sheet late on.
It means Chelsea, who have drawn each of their last four home games, can stop that rot with their most convincing win of the season, as they slowly inch up to 12th position in the league, still some 14 points off the top four.
It was a fantastic start by the hosts, who scored three goals in the first-half for the first time in two years at home.
The warning sides were there from the third minute. Matic snapped at a volley under pressure which flew wide, but the net would bulge just two minutes later.
Willian’s quick turn of pace opened space and when Costa made a good run, the Brazilian fed the ball to the Spaniard to slide home what was a difficult shot. It got Chelsea off to the perfect start and gave Costa his eighth goal in 10 matches since Hiddink came in.
Pedro was unselfish to not want to get the final touch as he was ready to pounce on the goal-line had Costa’s shot not crept past the line, but he would get his goal soon.
From a poor Shelvey free-kick which was cleared by Fabregas at the near post, Hazard raced on and, when under pressure from a Chelsea counter, opted to make a feeble back-pass to Jaanmaat. Pedro intercepted, raced onto Rob Elliot and side-footed home a delicious goal from 20 yards to record his third league goal of the season.
Chelsea have dropped more points after taking the lead at home than any other side in the Premier League, but when you combine that with the face Newcastle have the worst scoring record away from home in the entirety of the Football League, it was hard to see how Terry’s men would be troubled.
In fact, it just got even better for Chelsea. Another break-out saw Fabregas loop the ball to Costa, who had the legs on Coloccini, and his square pass to Willian saw him tap in a third.
It could have gotten messier: Pedro pulled back to Ivanovic whose shot was blocked, and from the ensuing corner the Serbian’s header was cleared off the line.
Terry then got half a yard on his marker from another corner; again blocked.
Pedro then wasted the best chance for a fourth when again more lackadaisical defending by Newcastle saw the Spaniard free and in on goal.
Willian had a free-kick just before half-time but his excellent dipping set-piece was well stopped by Elliot.
Newcastle’s best chance of the half came from a stretching Jaanmaat right-wing cross, which was inch-perfect and found Wijnaldum free on the penalty spot but shot straight at Courtois.
The one bad news was that Terry had to go off injured, but other than that it was a near-perfect half by Chelsea.
The second half started much the same. Newcastle had a handful of chances but Chelsea the better of them: the ball got stuck under Pedro’s legs just as he was about to pull the trigger, but he would not have to wait long for his second. A superb Fabregas long ball evaded Taylor and Pedro chested it down before slotted home with his right foot.
Mitrovic was working off scraps all day but had a great opportunity to pull one back when free in the penalty area, but dragged his shot wide. It was a let-off.
Costa was taken off with one eye on the PSG match mid-week but that did not stop the source of Chelsea attacks. Fabregas and Traore, Costa’s replacement, both had shots charged down, but things were working very comfortably in Chelsea’s favour.
Traore obtained Chelsea’s fifth after another fantastic team goal. He passed to Azpilicueta out wide on the right and made a surging charge into the box, and after Azpilicueta played a one-two off Hazard, his cross was tapped in by Traore who got in front of Taylor.
Hazard should have made it six after another superb long-range Fabregas pass but he stepped on the ball when he needed the final critical touch past Elliot.
He would be the only Chelsea front-man to miss out on the action, but he certainly was not missing out on the fun, as Chelsea can toast their best performance of the season tonight, even if the clean sheet was denied with Townsend excellent crisp goal at the end.
What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!
Man of the Match
PEDRO: Much more like the Spaniard we saw at Barcelona. After a very slow start to his Chelsea career, Hiddink preferred him to Oscar today and boy did he justify that decision. Scored some excellent goals, and could have had more. Energetic and lively and Chelsea will need more of that to compensate for Hazard’s decline and to act as insurance in case Willian falters. Fabregas also had a fantastic match and pings long passes much better from a deeper berth. 8/10
Hiddink was pleased the game plan worked: “We can be pleased with the performance of the guys. We tried to surprise them in the beginning. Happily it worked out. It’s important for the way we played, not just in attack. The players also have to do defensive work and that is where we are aiming and then the quality comes out.”
McLaren was resigned: “We lost the game in the first 15 minutes. We got exposed on quite a few occasions in terms of defensive frailties. We caused our own problems. We knew Chelsea would come out quick. They wanted to win that game by half-time with the week they have ahead of them. It was damage limitation by half-time.”