Zola And Gronkjaer Clip Magpie's Wings (Sky Sports)

Gus Poyet and Gianfranco ZolaChelsea 3-1 Newcastle United
Zola 37, Poyet 61, Gronkjaer 78 - Bassedas 23

FA Carling Premiership


Chelsea had Gianfranco Zola and Jesper Gronkjaer to thank for a twelfth home win of the season that sees them rise to a handy sixth in the Premiership table.

In the first half it was the little Italian genius who was at the heart of all the Blues best moves and who scored a sumptuous individual effort to cancel out Christian Bassedass opener.

On 37 minutes, Celestine Babayaro fed the Italian just outside the Newcastle box. The solid Alain Goma hurried to close him down, but Zola merely feignted past his challenge and moved to the right. Just as it seemed he had gone too far to hit the target, he wrapped his right foot around the ball to send it curling deliciously past Given into the top right-hand corner.

Predictably, Frank Leboeuf was the main culprit for Newcastles opener on 23. The Frenchman, hanging around Stamford Bridge like a bad smell, failed to cut out a long ball that the lively Kieron Dyer back after a two-match ban latched onto. The England international crossed for Christian Bassedas to fire home after Ameobi missed his header.

Shortly afterwards, Graeme Le Saux went off injured to be replaced by Jesper Gronkjaer whose two goals at Gillingham on Sunday would have won him a place in most other Premiership starting line-ups.

Zola fired wide after a flowing move inside 10 minutes but his colleagues wasted his other efforts, Albert Ferrer failing to control at the near post and Babayaro hitting a shot wide. Further threats were cleared by the Magpies resolute defence.

Leboeuf had the chance to make amends at the start of the second period, but when Zolas whipped cross found him unmarked in the box, he placed his header badly wide.

From there, Gronkjaer took over from the tiring Italian. Given space on the left, the Dane twice raced into the box, but failed to profit and it was the old head of Gus Poyet who put Chelsea into the lead just after the hour.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was the provider, taking Sam Dalla Bonnas pass and sweeping a low cross into the box where the Uruguyan placed it past Given into the far corner.

Thereafter Chelsea dominated and it was no surprise when Gronkjaer made it three on 78, firing home from inside the box after a sagging Newcastle defence had failed to clear a Dennis Wise corner.

Shortly afterwards, Gronkjaer did well again down the left but shot wide and the game became scrappy as Gronkjaer, Bassedas and Goma followed Warren Barton into referee Mark Halseys book for niggling tackles.

Later on, Saturdays other two-goal hero, Eidur Gudjohnsen, came on, as did Mario Stanic and Lomana Tresor Lua-Lua, but the biggest round of applause was reserved for the departure of Zola, whose age has done nothing to dim his boundless talent.

Claudio Ranieris side is now the highest-scoring team at home and even a small improvement in their form on the road may yet see them sneak into Europe.

As for Newcastle, Bobby Robsons task still seems a tough one. The Magpies threadbare resources are being stretched to the limit and, but for their impressive form at St James Park, they might already be in a relegation scrap. The sooner their own talisman, Alan Shearer, returns, the better.

Man of the Match: Gianfranco Zola showed why Ranieri still sees him as a cornerstone of the side at 34. Determined and skilful, he should be cherished.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Ferrer, Babayaro, Leboeuf, Melchiot, Poyet (Stanic 87), Wise, Le Saux (Gronkjaer 30), Dalla Bona, Zola (Gudjohnsen 84), Hasselbaink.
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Jokanovic.
Booked: Gronkjaer.
Goals: Zola 37, Poyet 62, Gronkjaer 79.

Newcastle: Given, Barton, Quinn, Goma, Hughes, Solano, Acuna, Bassedas, Speed, Dyer (Lua-Lua 78), Ameobi (Cordone 78).
Subs Not Used: Marcelino, Griffin, Karelse.
Booked: Barton, Bassedas.
Goals: Bassedas 23.

Att: 35,108 Ref: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City).

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