Chelsea eased the pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas with a victory which helped them leapfrog Newcastle and climb to fourth in the Premier League.

Tim Krul saved Frank Lampard's penalty - awarded for a foul on Daniel Sturridge by Yohan Cabaye - but Didier Drogba headed the Blues in front.

Newcastle missed a host of second-half chances before Salomon Kalou sealed the points with a neat 88th-minute finish.

Sturridge then side-footed a third in injury time to deflate the Magpies.

Pardew 'expected' Luiz red card

Chelsea just about deserved the win - only their fourth in 10 games - which was built on the back of the kind of display they have found so difficult to consistently produce this season.

However, after being largely outplayed in the first half, a spirited Newcastle were much improved in the second period and they will argue that the whole nature of the game should have been different from the fourth minute on.

David Luiz's clear foul on Demba Ba when the striker was seemingly clear on goal should have been punished with a red card, but instead referee Mike Dean opted to brandish a yellow, much to the chagrin of the home players and manager.

With a full compliment of players, Chelsea were subsequently able to impose themselves on an, at times, accommodating home side.

Spanish midfielder Juan Mata was the architect for the visitors and Sturridge the regular beneficiary. That the young striker remained goalless after the first 45 minutes was down to a matter of inches and the sheer quality of home keeper Krul.

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It was Sturridge's burst in the box after being released by Mata that earned Chelsea their penalty, but Krul got down well to his left to keep out Lampard's poorly hit effort.

The home side did not learn though and three more times Mata released Sturridge only for the striker to be denied firstly by the post, then by Krul and finally by his own wayward shooting.

However, when called upon Drogba proved more clinical, powerfully heading in over the diving Krul from Mata's delivery.

The closest the home side came to a goal in the first half was a Ba header from Peter Lovenkrands' cross that hit the post and a flicked effort from the former, which Petr Cech tipped over.

However, after making most of the running before the break, Chelsea were on the back foot for the majority of the second period.

Villas-Boas lauds Chelsea's 'important step'

Early on Drogba headed against his own crossbar from a corner, with Krul again called upon to rescue his side as Ramires immediately broke down the other end.

Substitute Shola Ameobi struck a post with a superb shot from 20 yards, before his brother Sammy, who was introduced midway through the half, saw an effort cleared off the line by John Terry.

With Newcastle committing more and more men forward to salvage a draw, Chelsea struck twice late on to kill the game and give it a more flattering slant than it probably deserved.

First substitute Fernando Torres broke away before being forced to check - but still had the presence of mind to find Kalou, who finished into the corner.

And Sturridge struck the goal he deserved in injury time, cutting in from the right before drilling low past Krul.

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