Chelsea boss Frank Lampard: Being in the top four motivates us further
Frank Lampard urged Chelsea to build on their rise into the English Premier League's top four, after Marcos Alonso clinched a 1-0 win that silenced the Newcastle United fans who jeered the Spaniard at Stamford Bridge.
Alonso's blistering strike ended Newcastle's stubborn resistance with 17 minutes left and provided the perfect riposte to the taunts from the stands.
The Chelsea left-back spent the second half of the 2013-14 season on loan at Newcastle's arch-rivals Sunderland and played in a derby win at St James' Park.
The Magpies supporters clearly hadn't forgotten as they booed him throughout Saturday's match.
But Alonso's first goal since April gave him the last laugh as Chelsea made it five successive victories in all competitions.
After winning just two of their opening eight games under Lampard, the Blues are beginning to find their stride.
The mature way Lampard's young side kept probing and found a way to beat an obdurate Newcastle bodes well for the future.
Lampard had asked for more urgency from his players at half-time and was glad his men responded.
"We were much better in the second half. You saw spirit and energy in the team," he said.
"We could have won by more to make the last 10 minutes more comfortable.
"We know we want to be challenging in the top four and, from the slightly difficult start we had, it shows we are moving in the right direction. Being in the top four must give us only the hunger to move on."
The feat was all the more laudable, as it was the first time Chelsea had five English players in their EPL starting line-up since February 2013 - Fikayo Tomori, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham.
Chelsea's pressure finally told in the 73rd minute when Hudson-Odoi teed up Alonso, unmarked inside the Newcastle area, for a powerful effort that flashed under Martin Dubravka's hand and into the far corner. - AFP