Chelsea Blanks Newcastle, Takes Premier League Lead
Stamford Bridge, England
Chelsea blanked Newcastle United, 2-0, for its third straight win to stay on top of the Barclays Premier League standings.
Midfielder Eden Hazard orchestrated the victory with a penalty goal in the 22nd minute before laying the second goal for Fernando Torres in first-half stoppage time to give Chelsea nine points after three games.
"I'm very happy to get my first goal at Stamford Bridge," said Hazard, who moved to Chelsea from Lille.
Chelsea had the first real scoring chance in the 18th minute as Torres controlled a cross-field pass from Raul Meireles before rolling a pass to Ryan Bertrand, whose kick was not strong enough to get past goalkeeper Tim Krul.
The European champions grabbed the lead when Vurnon Anita brought down Torres just inside the penalty area. With regular penalty-taker Frank Lampard on the bench, Hazard stepped up and directed a low penalty past Krul.
The visitors tried to equalize before halftime in a breakaway but Papiss Cisse's snap-shot went straight to Petr Cech's hands.
Chelsea retaliated in the dying minutes of the first half as Hazard back-heeled the ball perfectly into the path of Torres, who finished calmly into the top corner.
Meanwhile, Everton got first-half goals from Steven Pienaar, Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic to beat Aston Villa, 3-1.
Pienaar silenced home fans with a goal three minutes into the game before Fellaini added another in the 31st minute. In the 44th minute, Leighton Baines delivered a left-wing cross and no one picked up Jelavic as he drilled a near-post shot past Shay Given.
Karim El Ahmadi scored a consolation effort for Aston Villa but it came after defender Ciaran Clark was sent off after 58 minutes for a professional foul in a first home game to forget for Villa manager Paul Lambert.
Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa scored in their home debut as Manchester United defeated Fulham, 3-2.
"The first-half performance was fantastic," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. "It could have been five, six, anything. But we made a terrible mistake for the second goal and it becomes a match. Before that it had never been a match."
In other games, Swansea blanked West Ham United, 3-0, Norwich City and Queens Park Rangers battled to a 1-1 draw, Wigan defeated Southampton, 2-0, Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion tied 1-1 while the showdown between Sunderland and Reading was postponed.
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