PREMIER LEAGUE: Chelsea get the better of Newcastle in thrilling encounter
David Luiz was lucky not to see red when he brought down Demba Ba on the edge of the area to deny a goalscoring opportunity as the last defender in just the fourth minute prompting furious reactions from Newcastle boss Alan Pardew and his players.
Newcastle also hit the woodwork on three occasions and had one attempt cleared off the line by John Terry whilst Tim Krul was superb in goals for the Magpies, denying the Blues, who were slightly unlucky not to score more goals earlier themselves with the Dutch goalkeeper saving a 14th minute penalty from Frank Lampard.
After a hectic opening, Chelsea were able to break the deadlock in the 38th minute when Didier Drogba headed home Juan Mata's cross from the left on the front post from just outside the six-yard box for just his second league goal of the season.
The Magpies showed plenty of resistance and were unlucky not to equalise but they finally conceded late in the piece when Kalou fired in past Krul after fellow substitute Fernando Torres squared the ball to him following some difficulty in getting a clear shot off.
Newcastle were forced to play the last few minutes with ten men when Steven Taylor succumbed to injury and it opened up their defence as Sturridge, who had been denied time and time again by Krul, slipped a late shot through to give the Blues a fairly comfortable victory in the end.
However, they were not without their own problems with Petr Cech producing a top save in the 24th minute when he acrobatically denied Ba's classy flicked volley from Ryan Taylor's cross ten minutes before Ba was unlucky to see his header from Danny Guthrie's pinpoint cross hit the upright as Terry's clearance deflected back off Luiz with Cech required to slap it away to safety.
Drogba inadvertently sent a defensive header onto his own crossbar from a 55th minute Newcastle corner before Krul denied Ramires on the break down the other end, about 20 minutes before substitute Sammy Ameobi had his goal-bound effort cleared off the line by a well-placed Terry.
Shola Ameobi saw his 80th minute drive from outside the area cannon off the crossbar before the Blues got their killer instinct back to see off the game and move back into the top three.
The loss was Newcastle's second at home in their past 16 league outings, forcing them to drop to fifth, and Pardew has a few worries with both centre-backs Fabricio Coloccini and Taylor not finishing the game due to injury.
TRIBAL ASKS: Is this the start of Newcastle's expected drop down the table or are they good enough to remain with the leading pack?