LONDON (AFP) – Substitute Papiss Cisse scored twice as leaders Chelsea’s hopes of completing the Premier League season unbeaten were dashed by a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United on Saturday.
Cisse scored twice in the second half and despite Steven Taylor being sent off for Newcastle and Didier Drogba replying late on for Chelsea, Alan Pardew’s side held on for a third consecutive home win over Chelsea.
Newcastle’s victory prevented Chelsea from establishing a new club record of 24 games without defeat and means Manchester City can cut their lead to just three points if they beat Everton.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho recalled top scorer Diego Costa after he missed Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur through suspension and they started brightly, with Willian twice shooting narrowly wide.
But Newcastle defended stoutly and began to threaten, with Ayoze Perez slipping a clever pass through to Jack Colback in the 32nd minute, only for Thibaut Courtois to rush out and save.
John Mikel Obi spurned a good chance to put Chelsea ahead in the 57th minute when he headed wide from a Cesc Fabregas free-kick and within seconds, Newcastle took the lead.
Moussa Sissoko fed Sammy Ameobi on the left flank and after Gary Cahill failed to cut out the 22-year-old’s low cross, Senegal striker Cisse pounced to tap home from inside the six-yard box.
Mourinho sent on Andre Schuerrle, Drogba and Filipe Luis and with 12 minutes remaining, Eden Hazard saw a shot come back off the base of the right-hand post.
Once again, Newcastle were quick to exploit their good fortune.
Colback’s pass freed Sissoko and although the France midfielder was unable to get a shot away, he managed to toe the ball square to the waiting Cisse, who swept home his second goal from 12 yards.
Home captain Taylor saw red moments later after being shown a second card for upending Schuerrle and Drogba halved the deficit from the ensuing free-kick by heading in Cesc Fabregas’s cross.
But despite having to endure six nail-biting minutes of injury time, Newcastle survived.
As well as defending champions City, Chelsea’s loss will also offer hope to third-place Southampton and fourth-place Manchester United, who meet at St Mary’s on Monday.
Arsenal could climb into the Champions League places by winning at Stoke City, while Liverpool will go in search of a third successive win at home to Sunderland.