Perhaps it was the heavy squad rotation, or maybe because of the busy fixture list that resulted in Chelsea's sluggish display that saw them defeated, but Di Matteo will be disappointed in such a limp performance. With Tottenham also chasing for the final Champion’s League spot, both teams will have known it was a must win game. However Newcastle were the only side that turned upThey put last week’s 4-0 drilling at the hands of Wigan behind them and were the deserved winner thanks to two exquisite goals from Cisse.
Drogba, Lampard, Cole and Mata were all left on the Chelsea's bench, presumably to rest them for the upcoming FA and Champions League final, and the Blues looked unconvincing without them. Stamford Bridge was less of a fortress and more of a wooden hut that Newcastle easily broke into. The Magpies approached with an attaching formation with Demba Ba and Cisse looking sharp upfront.
The visitors offensive approach paid off in the 19th minute when Davide Santon found Cisse on the edge of the box. The Senegalese striker picked up the ball with his first touch and volleyed it past Petr Cech with his second.
Just before the half time whistle Demba Ba came close to double Newcastle’s lead. Newcastle won a corner and, an in a move that looked well practised on the training ground, pulled the ball back for the Senegalese striker who struck it onto the crossbar. Cue comments from the commentators about “Ba on Bar” action.
Di Matteo made changes in the second half, bringing on Mata and Drogba, hoping for a bit of attacking momentum. His side responded positively but still couldn’t find a way through Newcastle’s hardy defence, with Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini particularly solid.
The second-half was halted for a prolonged period of time when Cheick Tioté clashed mid-air with John Obi Mikel. The Ivorian landed badly and had to be given oxygen on the pitch before being stretchered off, resulting in 10 injury time minutes being added to the clock. Tioté was subbed off for Ryan Taylor and thankfully appeared on the Newcastle bench later in the game, looking shaken but not seriously hurt.
As the clock ran down Chelsea struggled to find a way through. They dominated possession but couldn’t get any clear cut chances. Mikel was poor in midfield, frequently giving away the ball and not linking up play between the defence and attack like a good holding midfielder should.
It was against the run of play when Newcastle doubled their lead with, arguably, the goal of the season. Cisse received the ball from a throw in on the far left hand side of the pitch. He looked up before lofting the ball towards the Chelsea goal. The ball took an unbelievable swerve in their air, reminiscent of Reberto Carlos’ amazing costless-kick against France in 1997, and Cech could do nothing to stop it.
The result leaves Newcastle in fifth place, level on points with fourth place Tottenham, only behind on goal difference. Chelsea, in sixth, now need to win the Champions League in Munich if they want to qualify for next season’s competition.