Newcastle United 1-0 Chelsea: Willock stunner sees Magpies soar into World Cup break in third

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Joe Willock's sensational strike was enough to earn Newcastle United a 1-0 victory over Chelsea, sending Eddie Howe's side back up to third in the Premier League.

Willock curled a wonderful first-time finish into the top-right corner to break the deadlock in the 67th minute of Saturday's encounter at St James' Park.

Newcastle had needed Nick Pope to be on top form prior to Willock's moment of magic – the goalkeeper denying England team-mate Conor Gallagher.

Tempers boiled over at the end, though while Chelsea will have to lick their wounds after a third straight league loss, Newcastle claimed another statement victory.

In-form Miguel Almiron skied an early volley over the bar in a first half devoid of clear-cut chances that Newcastle slightly shaded.

Armando Broja registered the only shot on target by either side in the opening 45 minutes by, but his tame effort was saved comfortably by Nick Pope.

Newcastle fans screamed for a penalty in injury time when the ball struck Trevoh Chalobah's arm, but referee Robert Jones dismissed those protests.

The hosts started the second half with renewed vigour – Edouard Mendy denying Sean Longstaff, who fired over from a second chance a few moments later.

Newcastle needed their goalkeeper in the 65th minute, though, with Pope brilliantly tipping Gallagher's shot wide.

Willock made Pope's excellence count, curling home past a despairing Mendy after great work from Almiron on the edge of Chelsea's box.

Kai Havertz went close to nudging in an equaliser, but Chelsea's attempts proved fruitless as their poor form under Graham Potter continued.

What does it mean? Newcastle in dreamland

Yet another victory ensures Newcastle will pause for the World Cup break third in the Premier League after a run of five straight wins, the first time they have managed a run like that since 2014. It is the highest they have headed into Christmas since the 2001-02 season, when they were top, and went on to finish fourth.

They were full value for their victory here, registering 1.06 expected goals (xG) to Chelsea's 0.29 while having 10 attempts to the visitors' five, as the Blues managed just two shots on target in another worrying display for Potter, who might already be facing growing pressure.

Willock wonderland

Willock's winner was a truly special strike, timing his run to come onto the ball before lashing into the back of the net.

Aside from his goal, Willock put in a complete performance in attack and defence, completing 87.5 per cent of his passes and finishing the match with three tackles, the third most among Newcastle players.

Gallagher struggles

After he was included in Gareth Southgate's England squad for the World Cup, perhaps surprisingly, Gallagher's performance here will have done nothing to silence his doubters.

The 22-year-old won just four of his 12 duels at a success rate of 33.3 per cent while giving away possession a team-high 18 times, though he did go closest for Chelsea when denied by an acrobatic Pope save.

Key Opta Facts

- Newcastle are unbeaten in 10 in a row in the league for the first time since May-November 2011 (14 games).
- Potter is the first Chelsea coach to lose three consecutive Premier League games since Jose Mourinho in 2015.
- Chelsea have scored 17 goals in their 14 Premier League games this season; their fewest at this stage of a campaign since 2015-16 (also 17), when they went on to finish 10th.
- Willock has scored in consecutive Premier League appearances for Newcastle for the second time this year, previously doing so back in February.
- No goalkeeper has kept more clean sheets than Pope in the Premier League this season (seven), with five of those seven coming at St. James' Park.

What's next?

Chelsea are back in action on December 27, when they host Bournemouth. Newcastle's next match comes in the EFL Cup December 20, also against the Cherries.