Superb Joe Willock strike lifts Newcastle to win over Chelsea

Joe Willock celebrates after scoring the winning goal for Newcastle.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Joe Willock had the only goal of the match as Newcastle United defeated Chelsea 1-0 at St. James' Park on Saturday.

After a first-half that saw both sides unable to unlock their opponent, midfielder Willock hit a superb strike into the bottom right corner of the net after Miguel Almiron drove the ball in from the wing.

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Newcastle had a penalty appeal turned down after defender Dan Burn's cross hit Trevoh Chalobah's flailing arm late in the first half while Chelsea forward Armando Broja registered the only shot on target in an otherwise uneventful opening period.

Chelsea created few opportunities, with their best chance coming from a long-range strike from Conor Gallagher in the second-half which saw Nick Pope make a flying save for the home side.

"The big games are there to go after for us. We have done that really well this season. The crowd are really behind us in this stadium," goalkeeper Pope said. 

"The boys didn't give me too much to do so it is good to chip in when I can. You will have moments when you need to make big saves and blocks [like from Conor Gallagher]. The boys were tremendous in front of me and pressed really well. The game plan that was put together, we really believed in it.

"When the big tournaments [World Cup] are around there will always be people who miss out so we are glad to get through it [without getting injured]."

Newcastle had slipped to fourth after Tottenham Hotspur's victory over Leeds United earlier but regained third place with a fifth straight league win, and will be in the Premier League's top three at Christmas for the first time since 2001.

Eddie Howe's side, on 30 points, have lost only one of their opening 15 games, and sit two points behind second-placed Manchester City and one above Tottenham in fourth while Chelsea dropped down to eighth after a third straight defeat.

"We know what we needed to do. The manager put in a good game plan and we deserved to win. In the first half we dominated and the last pass wasn't quite there. We got the goal and the clean sheet," Willock said after the match. 

"I have been practising shooting in training to be fair. I have been missing scoring in front of these fans so to get a goal today is brilliant for me and the team.

"These games bring up high emotions. Both teams want to win and these things happen [at the end]."

The loss is the fifth straight Premier League match without a win for Graham Potter's side.

"There were too many enforced errors. We had the quality to play through but lacked that last bit. Newcastle are very confident. You could see the difference in the team in terms of the schedules each has had. We got back into it a bit second half with Conor's effort but then they scored. They put you under pressure with high intensity," Potter said to Sky Sports. 

"We tried but in the end lacked the quality to get the goal we needed. We need to do more to come away to say we deserved anything. It was a tight game. Not many chances. Credit to Newcastle who are in a good moment. This is a tough place to come. It is not nice for us. We are in a bad moment. We take the break to recharge and go again."

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.