Ayoze Perez struck twice to end Chelsea’s hopes of Champions League qualification as Newcastle secured a top-10 finish on their return to the Premier League.
The Blues, who face Manchester United in the FA Cup final next Saturday, simply did not turn up for what many believe could be Antonio Conte’s final league game at the helm and were well beaten in front of a largely thrilled crowd of 52,294 at St James’ Park.
Dwight Gayle headed the home side into a 23rd-minute lead they richly deserved, and Perez’s second-half double ended a run of four successive defeats with a 3-0 victory, fuelling fresh calls from the stands for manager Rafael Benitez to extend his stay on Tyneside.
Whether it was spraying long balls across the pitch and over the top, neat through passes or testing shots, Shelvey was at the heart of all of Newcastle’s best moves. The midfielder was clearly enjoying himself. Could he yet find himself on the plane to Russia?
Newcastle snatched a second goal just as Chelsea were getting on top. Shelvey’s attempted shot from distance was turned in smartly by Perez. News of the goal was gratefully received at Anfield, with Liverpool fans breaking into Benitez chants. Perez added his second goal of the game shortly afterwards to kill off the Blues.
Newcastle fans are desperate for Benitez to stay on as manager, and this display only cemented their love for the Spaniard. There was only one side who looked like they were chasing Champions League football – and it wasn’t Chelsea. Blues boss Conte will not be happy with the manner in which his side conceded the third goal – a simple training-ground set-piece by the Magpies.
74' - Jonjo Shelvey is enjoying himself out there and he sends a terrific long pass forward for Hayden on the right. His lobbed pass into the box a moment later forces Cahill to clear into touch. 3-0. #NUFC— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 13, 2018
Newcastle: Martin Dubravka 8, DeAndre Yedlin 7, Jamaal Lascelles 7, Florian Lejeune 8, Paul Dummett 7, Jonjo Shelvey 9, Mohamed Diame 7, Matt Ritchie 8, Ayoze Perez 8, Jacob Murphy 7, Dwight Gayle 7. Substitutes: Joselu (48, for Gayle) 6, Isaac Hayden (72, for Ritchie) 6, Massadio Haidara (87, for Diame) 6.
Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois 6, Cesar Azpilicueta 6, Andreas Christensen 6, Gary Cahill 6, Victor Moses 6, Ross Barkley 6, N’Golo Kante 6, Tiemoue Bakayoko 7, Emerson 6, Eden Hazard 6, Olivier Giroud 7. Substitutes: Alvaro Morata (77, for Giroud) 6, Willian (77, for Barkley) 6, Pedro (82, for Hazard) 6.
Chelsea v Manchester United, FA Cup final, Saturday May 19