LONDON (AP) – Oscar provided a goal and an assist to give Chelsea a 2-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday, a result that moves Jose Mourinho’s side two points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Oscar scored two minutes before halftime after a neatly worked corner, before his inventive flick into the path of Diego Costa saw Chelsea’s second in the 59th minute.
As Manchester City drew 1-1 with Everton, it meant Chelsea opened up a two-point lead at the top.
Newcastle began strongly and could have scored first when Petr Cech – starting in goal ahead of Thibaut Courtois who missed out with a finger injury – made a superb low save from Remy Cabella in the 32nd minute.
Moussa Sissoko hit the post in the 36th.
Chelsea was struggling defensively, with captain John Terry uncharacteristically lacking composure alongside Kurt Zouma, who was making his first Premier League start ahead of Terry’s regular central defensive partner, Gary Cahill.
It got worse a minute after Sissoko went close when left-back Cesar Azpilicueta went off injured with Filipe Luis coming on and replacing him.
But in the 43rd, strongly against the run of play, Chelsea took the lead.
Willian quickly took a corner and found Branislav Ivanovic, who swept the ball across to Oscar at the back post for him to slot past Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul from eight yards.
While the first-half display was far from convincing, the second was more assured from Chelsea and it doubled its lead shortly before the hour mark.
This time, Oscar was the architect, receiving a chip from Eden Hazard and turning the ball into the path of Costa with a superb back-heeled flick.
Costa took the ball perfectly in his stride and slotted a low shot beyond Krul into the corner of the net for his 15th goal of the season.
From then on, Chelsea was not threatened by the visitors, and only looked like extending its lead.
“The first half was very difficult for us but the second half we played much better and we need to play like that every game,” Zouma said. “We have to keep winning and keep working every day.”