Newcastle United hosted heavily favored Chelsea in St. James Park, seeking to redeem a prior loss this season. It turned out to be very redemptive indeed, as Moussa Sissoko's two goals in his home debut led the Magpies to a 3-2 victory.
To open the scoring, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech hesitated as Jonas Gutierrez headed a beautiful cross from Davide Santon to the bottom corner that was essentially unstoppable. That marked Gutierrez's first goal in a year, and put Newcastle on top in the 18th minute.
During the January transfer window, former Newcastle star striker Demba Ba fled to perceptibly greener pastures with Chelsea. However, this day was particularly unkind to him.
He was denied in the box by Magpies keeper Tim Krul, then got his own rebound but a header drifted just wide of the far post in the 31st minute. On that play, he had to leave after a kick to the face. He attempted to stay in for the remainder of the first half but couldn’t bear the pain.
FOX Sports' Rob Stone broke the news of Ba's official status on Twitter:
Rob Stone @RobStoneONFOX
Broken nose for #CFC 's Ba. Hopefully that's it, but when you take a boot to the head, more is usually involved.2013-2-2 16:08:00
After a 1-0 halftime deficit, prolific scorer Frank Lampard got his club back on track. The 34-year-old midfielder scored his 10th goal of the EPL season at 55' from well outside the box, which marked his 10th straight double-digit scoring campaign.
After Juan Mata put the Blues on top in the 61st minute, a two-man Newcastle attack led by Yoan Gouffran was initially denied by Cech, but Sissoko slammed home the rebound for the equalizer at 68'.
Sissoko nearly had another goal just moments later, but was denied by Cech after out-sprinting star defender Ashley Cole to the ball. However, Sissoko got redemption by notching the deciding goal in the 90th minute, beating Cech on the short side from roughly 25 yards out.
This hurts Chelsea's chances at capturing the EPL title, and increases the heat under interim manager Rafael Benitez.
Here are some grades for the most prominent players in what was a very captivating match.
Moussa Sissoko: A
After a relatively quiet first half, Sissoko took control of the match in the second half. He converted two of his four outstanding opportunities, and was the main reason that Newcastle was able to notch three points in this one.
The speedy, athletic 23-year-old is just starting with the Magpies, signing just a mere weeks ago. Clearly, his impact is already being felt. His electric game-winner will not be easily forgotten.
Frank Lampard: A
His future is very much in doubt since he is reportedly set to join either the MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy or AC Milan (h/t Daily Mirror). However, that hasn't stopped Lampard from being dominant on the pitch for Chelsea.
Ten consecutive seasons of 10 goals or more as a midfielder speaks to how valuable he is in keeping the Blues in control of possession. It's also especially impressive considering his battles through injury this season.
Davide Santon: A
The full back was a key part of the attack, notching two assists on the first and last goals of the match. His sensational cross set up Gutierrez's goal, and his push and pass to Sissoko led to the setup that ultimately doomed the Blues.
Santon was a catalyst for the entire fixture, and was a big part of the victory that the Newcastle faithful were treated to.
Tim Krul: B
Allowing two goals might not always warrant this grade, but it could have been a lot worse for the home team if Krul weren't so stellar. Consistently exposed to golden opportunities for Chelsea, Krul stood his ground, with his first-half denial of Ba helping Newcastle maintain a critical early advantage.
Other than Lampard's perfect strike and Mata's brilliant goal, it was an impressive display by Krul as he helped the host acquire three points.