NEWCASTLE: Chelsea required an own goal from Newcastle’s DeAndre Yedlin to maintain their 100 percent start to the Premier League season as the Blues ground out a 2-1 win at St James’ Park on Sunday.
Meanwhile, promoted Fulham got the first win of their league campaign when they beat Burnley 4-2 at Craven Cottage.
Yedlin deflected Marcos Alonso’s shot into his own net in the 87th minute to settle a match that had threatened to end in frustration for Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri.
Earlier, Chelsea needed a penalty from Eden Hazard to finally breach a black and white wall erected by manager Rafa Benitez, whose defensive approach succeeded for 76 minutes.
The Newcastle manager acknowledged the massive gap in quality between the two sets of players, packing his defence and granting Chelsea the ball for 80 percent of the game.
It was possession that they were unable to turn into goals until Fabian Schar’s challenge on Spanish defender Alonso produced a penalty.
Newcastle responded with a goal from Joselu in a rare attack and looked set to steal a point before Chelsea’s last-gasp winner made it three successive victories for the Blues.Chelsea failed to find a way through and were particularly frustrated in the first 45 minutes.
Hazard placed two shots wide, while Antonio Rudiger and Pedro was also off-target before Pedro finally forced Dubravka to make a save.
It was a satisfying half for Benitez, who saw his side create two opportunities on the break when Kepa Arrizabalaga had to save from Jacob Murphy and Salomon Rondon wasted an excellent chance by heading wide.Four of Newcastle’s summer signings were starting a game for the first time in a line-up and two of them — Schar and Federico Fernandez — were at the heart of Newcastle’s defence.
Both performed well, particularly in the second half when the pattern was the same but Chelsea delivered more crosses towards Alvaro Morata as they started to run out of patience.
Rudiger almost made the breakthrough when he powered a shot against the bar in the 72nd minute, shortly before Hazard’s penalty.
Even the most optimistic Newcastle supporter must have feared the worst, but Joselu’s 83rd minute header offered them hope before Chelsea won it in dramatic fashion.
FULHAM OFF THE MARK
Two goals in three minutes by Aleksandar Mitrovic helped Fulham to their first league win.
Jean Michael Seri, an Ivory Coast international who was another of the Londoners’ expensive close-season signings, opened the scoring in only the fourth minute but Jeff Hendrick soon equalised.
Mitrovic, signed from Newcastle after a loan period last season, struck in the 36th and 38th minutes before James Tarkowski cut the arrears to 3-2 by halftime.
Andre Schurrle scored late on to confirm Burnley’s drop into the bottom three.
“Every goal is a nice goal, great feeling, but the most important thing is we grab the three points and give the fans a nice afternoon,” Mitrovic said.
Earlier on Sunday, unfancied Watford continued their great start to the season with a third successive win when they beat visiting Crystal Palace 2-1.
It is the first time they have begun with three wins out of three in the top tier of English football, keeping them right up among the early pacemakers.
Etienne Capoue might have been sent off for an early foul on Wilfried Zaha, so Palace were aggrieved that he made the opening goal for Roberto Pereyra in the 53rd minute.
Defender Jose Holebas doubled the lead with what he confessed was a cross before Zaha reduced the arrears 12 minutes from the end.
In Saturday’s late game, Mohamed Salah struck again to ensure an underpowered Liverpool maintained their perfect early-season record in the 1-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion at Anfield.
Salah, the league’s top scorer last year, scored the first-half winner to give Liverpool nine points from three matches. The Egypt forward curled a low shot inside the far post in the 23rd minute to take his tally to 29 goals in as many home games.
But Liverpool had to withstand a few nervy moments with 65-million goalkeeper Alisson Becker producing a vital save to deny Pascal Gross two minutes from time to seal a third consecutive clean sheet.