Chelsea survived a scare to claim a 3-1 win over Newcastle United on Saturday and move level on points with second-place Manchester United in the Premier League.
The champions came from a goal down to record their fifth win in six league matches thanks to an Eden Hazard double and an Alvaro Morata header.
Antonio Conte had complained this week that his side have been given an unfair fixture schedule, with Newcastle given an extra 24 hours to prepare for this game after playing on Tuesday, and Chelsea certainly looked out-of-sorts early on at Stamford Bridge as Dwight Gayle put the visitors ahead.
Gayle also opened the scoring in the 4-1 defeat to United last month and there was sense of deja vu for the Magpies when Hazard levelled nine minutes later, before Morata’s header made it 2-1 before half-time.
Chelsea rather eased off in the second half, with Hazard coming close to a third on two occasions, but the Belgium star eventually made the points safe with an impudent penalty.
The result puts Conte’s side level on 32 points with United, who face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium later on Saturday, while Newcastle stay 12th.
Chelsea’s sluggish start was punished after 12 minutes. A defensive mix-up saw the ball deflect towards Jacob Murphy and, although Thibaut Courtois palmed the ball away from his feet, Gayle was on hand to tap home the rebound.
The goal seemed to spark the home side into life, with Hazard denied by a good Karl Darlow save following a fine Cesc Fabregas pass, before Andreas Christensen rattled the post with a header.
With 21 minutes played, the Blues got their equaliser. Florian Lejeune cleared a cross only as far as Hazard on the edge of the six-yard box, and the Belgian bounced a half-volley off the turf and into the right-hand corner.
Chelsea kept up their pressure and grabbed a second 12 minutes before the break. Victor Moses sent in a cross from the right, Lejeune and Chancel Mbemba both missed it, and Morata had the simple task of nodding the ball into the net from barely five yards out.