Chelsea’s 23-match invincibility streak has ended at the hands of Newcastle and Papiss Cisse as the Blues’ continued to have struggles in the North East.
Mourinho, who has never beaten Newcastle at St James’ in the Premier League, could have written a club record 24-match unbeaten run by avoiding defeat today but that chance went in the second half, despite Drogba’s best efforts.
Chelsea had started brilliantly in the opening stages, creating many opportunities in the opening quarter of the match, but there was always the warning Newcastle would get something, as proven when Colback broke free, only for Courtois to spare Blues’ blushes.
Rob Elliot having to go off and Newcastle’s third-choice goalkeeper coming on may have given Chelsea some ideas, but Alnwick was inspired.
Couple that with Cisse coming on, Newcastle were inspired at the front too, and went ahead when Cahill could no clear from a cross. Cisse was on hand to tap in from three yards.
And so came the Chelsea onslaught, but to the detriment of another goal. Haard had hit the post but 36 seconds later, this swift Newcastle break looked like it had been stopped by Courtois, but the ball wriggled to Cisse to slide home another.
There was a mountain to climb but the arrival of Drogba brought Chelsea to the level they should have started the game at. The old Chelsea spirit came back with his emergence, and Taylor commited one foul too many and Atkinson sent him off. From the ensuing corner, Drogba leapt highest.
But it was too little too late and, should Manchester City win at Everton tonight, what could have been a temporary nine-point lead may well turn into a paltry three-point lead.
Man of the Match
DIDIER DROGBA: What Drogba may have lost in speed and energy levels, he more than makes up for in desire. He was only on the field for 23 minutes but the hunger and passion for the shirt was remarkable to see, and an example for other players that the Chelsea way is to dig very deep when matches go wrong. A classic header and was a real nuisance in the air. All other players were a 5/10 today; Hazard lost the ball a lot too and when you have the utterly useless Mikel stand in for Matic, the result is no surprise. 7/10
Mourinho defends his unlucky side: “My team lost the way I like to lose which is to give everything and being unlucky. Things were happening outside the four lines that the referee couldn’t control. The referee can’t punish the ball boy who disappeared with the ball, the referee couldn’t punish the people in the crowd who kept the ball.”
Pardew was soaking up all the praise: “That was about character and discipline against probably best team in Europe at the moment. It’s a special day for us. Our tactical plan to stop Chelsea worked quite well. We’re delighted to have given a little gee up to the Premier League.”