Stuttering Blues held by Newcastle
Salomon Kalou spared champions Chelsea the ignominy of a third successive defeat for the first time in 11 years with a first-half equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Newcastle.
The Ivory Coast international struck in injury-time to cancel out Andy Carroll's sixth-minute opener, his ninth goal of the season.
Chelsea had the better of the chances and Kalou fired wastefully into the side-netting 10 minutes from time, but the Magpies managed to hang on for a creditable point.
Newcastle made a flying start and could have been ahead in the opening 90 seconds when Carroll`s header was parried by Petr Cech and Shola Ameobi volleyed the rebound wide.
But Chris Hughton's men did not have long to wait to open the scoring as they were the recipients of a defensive clanger in the sixth minute. Alex hit a back-pass beyond Cech to leave Carroll with the easiest of tap-ins.
Newcastle had been much the better side, with the visitors rarely threatening, but they were unable to get into half-time with their lead in tact as Chelsea scored their first goal in two-and-a-half games on the brink of the interval.
A fine passing move ended with Kalou, who cut inside and saw his effort deflected into the bottom corner.
Newcastle made a similarly impressive start to the second half and Carroll`s header was denied by Cech, while Ashley Cole produced a fine goalline clearance to deny Wayne Routledge.
Chelsea began to assert their authority, though, and Didier Drogba had an effort ruled out for handball, before the visitors were presented with a golden opportunity to win it with 11 minutes remaining.
A loose ball fell to Kalou at the back post, and after seeing his first effort blocked by Tim Krul, the Ivory Coast international inexplicably prodded his second effort wide with the goal at his mercy.