LONDON: Kai Havertz scored an 89th-minute winner to give Chelsea a 1-0 Premier League victory over Newcastle United on Sunday in their first home match since Britain's government sanctioned Russian owner Roman Abramovich with an asset freeze.
With the European champions adjusting to life under strict rules set out by the government, the visitors frustrated them with their harrying tactics for much of the game as they sought to move further clear of the relegation area.
But with the match seemingly heading for a draw, Jorginho launched a long pass over the Newcastle defence to Havertz and the German controlled the ball with his left foot before firing past Martin Dubravka for his fourth goal in three league games.
Havertz almost had a second in added time but Dubravka got a hand to his shot and the ball dropped onto the bar.
"It was necessary to stay patient and don't lose the passion and don't lose the spirit from the game," Chelsea's German coach Thomas Tuchel told BBC radio.
"We kept on believing that we could have this one pass, this one run, this one finish that we finally had."
The action on the pitch at Stamford Bridge was secondary to the turmoil triggered by last week's decision by the government to freeze Abramovich's assets after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying he had close ties to President Vladimir Putin over decades. Abramovich has denied having such ties.
The win left the Blues in third place in the table, 10 points behind leaders Manchester City who play on Monday but on course for a top-four finish and a Champions League slot.
Newcastle are 14th, nine points clear of the relegation zone.
The visitors, who had gone nine league games unbeaten, demanded a penalty in the second half when Chelsea defender Trevoh Chalobah appeared to tug the shirt of Jacob Murphy but referee David Coote ignored their claims.
Newcastle fans goaded their hosts, singing "No noise for the bankrupt boys". Chelsea fans speaking before the game said they believed the Abramovich era was over but they expressed hope that a new owner would be found soon.
Abramovich said earlier this month, before he was sanctioned, that he planned to sell the club he bought in 2003 which set Chelsea on a run of success unprecedented in their 117-year history.
There has been no comment from him since the government's asset freeze. The government has invited bids to be made.