Pedro scored twice and Bertrand Traore bagged his first Premier League goal as champions Chelsea thrashed Newcastle at Stamford Bridge.
In a lightning quick start, the hosts took a fourth-minute lead when Diego Costa slid the ball beyond Newcastle keeper Rob Elliott, who was again picking the ball out of his net when Pedro found the bottom corner just five minutes later.
Costa then turned provider for Willian to net his ninth of the season, whilst second-half strikes from first Pedro and then Traore saw Chelsea hit five, before the visitors replied with the most meaningless of consolation goals from former Tottenham winger Andros Townsend.
The win – the champions’ first at home in the Premier League in Guus Hiddink’s second spell – extends their unbeaten streak to twelve games in all competitions, and sees Chelsea move up two places, up to 12th, and just eight points off fifth-placed Manchester United.
Serving also as a much-needed confidence boost ahead of Tuesday’s trip to face Paris St-Germain at the Parc des Princes, this win – comfortably the Blues’ best of the season – means that, finally, Chelsea can boast a positive goal difference this Premier League season.
Hiddink sprung something of a surprise by naming such a strong line-up ahead of that aforementioned European clash, and his gamble paid off immediately as the Blues raced into an unassailable lead within 17 minutes.
It was Costa who opened the scoring following a magnificent team move, with Willian supplying the killer through-ball. It is now eight goals in ten games for the Spanish international forward, and his return to form has certainly reinvigorated Chelsea’s flagging season.
Pedro was then the beneficiary of a woeful back-pass, stealing in to slot home with unerring accuracy from eighteen yards. Willian then underlined Chelsea’s superiority as he swept home Costa’s delightful pass inside two Newcastle defenders, with Elliott hopelessly exposed.
That explosive opening salvo meant Chelsea were able to meander through the remaining 70 minutes in little more than second gear – Pedro first getting on the end of a magnificent raking pass from Cesc Fabregas to double his league goal tally for the season, before Traore capitalised on a wonderful Cesar Azpilicueta surge to sweep home the full-back’s teasing cross.
Townsend did somewhat spoil the party by denying Thibaut Courtois his clean sheet bonus, taking advantage of the space afforded to him by a team leading by five goals to rifle home a left-footed drive, but the bigger concern was an injury to John Terry which makes the Chelsea skipper a doubt for Tuesday’s Parisian adventure.