Michy Batshuayi scored twice as Chelsea reached the fifth round of the FA Cup at the expense of Newcastle.
Batshuayi rounded off a superb move to open the scoring before putting the finishing touch to another Chelsea attack just before half-time.
The 2017 finalists had made a slow start until Batshuayi’s opener, with goalkeeper Willy Caballero kept busy with four key first-half saves.
Chelsea, who were beaten by Arsenal in last year’s final, were slow out of the blocks and had Caballero to thank for denying Jonjo Shelvey midway through the first half.
The home side opened the scoring as Pedro’s superb long pass played in Eden Hazard, and when the ball was worked across to Batshuayi via Alonso, the Belgium forward was left with a simple finish from 12 yards.
Caballero was again called into action to deny Shelvey just before half-time following poor defending from the home side.
But just a minute later, seven-time FA Cup winners Chelsea doubled their lead as Batshuayi helped win the ball back inside his own half before racing into the area and seeing his shot from Hazard’s pass loop into the net via a deflection from the sliding Jamaal Lascelles.
Despite the advantage, Caballero remained the busier of the two goalkeepers with saves from Shelvey and Chancel Mbemba before the break.
Pedro and Alonso went close for the home side at the start of the second half as they continued to control the contest.
And with Newcastle struggling for a way back into the game, Alonso put the tie beyond doubt by giving Karl Darlow no chance with his career-best seventh goal of the season.
Batshuayi puts his hand up
With Chelsea seemingly desperate to land a striker before next week’s deadline, Batshuayi certainly gave Antonio Conte something to think about.
Conte has said that if the club sign another striker this month the Belgium international will be allowed to leave on loan, having struggled to retain a first team place under the Italian.
Edin Dzeko, Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch have all been linked with January moves to Chelsea.
But Batshuayi has done all he can to press his claims after joining Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata as the only Chelsea players to reach double figures this season, his brace on Sunday taking his personal tally to 10.
Batshuayi also scored in the FA Cup third round replay against Norwich, although you need to go back to October for his last league goals, a double in the win over Watford, having been largely restricted to substitute appearances this season.
The result ended a disappointing week for Chelsea on a high as Conte’s side bounced back from their League Cup defeat by Arsenal.
Despite four league titles in Italy and England as a manager, Conte has yet to win a major domestic cup competition, with his Italian Super Cup success with Juventus coming in a competition normally played as a pre-season curtain raiser.
He enjoyed plenty of cup success as a player though, and now awaits the draw for the fifth round, with a Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona also looming large.
Not all right on the Tyne
Newcastle started well enough, but found Caballero at the top of his game in the first 45 minutes, and the visitors were unable to match their first-half chances after the break.
The first half an hour or so will give manager Rafa Benitez some comfort with Wednesday’s visit of Burnley his main focus with Newcastle just a point above the relegation zone.
A win at St James’ Park would ensure Newcastle fans will quickly forget this disjointed display as they look to end a two-match winless run in the league following a draw with Swansea and defeat by Manchester City.
The transfer window will close not long after the full-time whistle on Wednesday but it remains to be seen if Benitez will add reinforcements to his squad with the club in limbo over a potential sale.
On thing is for certain, Benitez will want to hold onto Shelvey, who was somewhat unlucky not to score in the first half.
The former Liverpool and Swansea midfielder has been linked with a move away in January, but while not a guarantee, hopes of Premier League survival will receive a significant boost should Shelvey remain in black and white come February 1.
What they said
Chelsea captain Gary Cahill speaking to BT Sport: “It was decent in the end. I thought we started a bit rusty. We needed that win and to progress is the most important.
“We need to try to reach the final rounds in this having gone out of the EFL Cup the other night so this is very important.
“After the first 10-15 minutes we got on with it. Especially Michy, he took his opportunity today.”
Michy Batshuayi speaking to BT Sport: “It’s very good for the team and I’m very happy. When I have a chance I want to take it. I work everyday and today I am very happy here.
On his future: “I don’t know, it’s better you speak to Conte.”
Rafael Benitez speaking to BBC Sport: “We did well in the first-half, had chances, put them under pressure. We made a mistake in the counter-attack for the first goal and after second goal we were unlucky. There is a big difference to play Chelsea at their home and be 2-0 down.
“I am pleased with the team in the first-half and disappointed we lost the game, now we concentrate on the league”.
On the prospects of signing new players in January:“I hope we can do something.”
Man of the match – Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)
Two shots and two goals for Michy Batshuayi makes it a simple choice
Chelsea stay at Stamford Bridge for Wednesday’s return to the Premier League against Bournemouth (19:45 GMT), while Newcastle entertain Burnley at the same time.
Source: BBC SPort');