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Pochettino calls for Chelsea unity after Newcastle win

Mauricio Pochettino called for the Chelsea fans to trust his players after a 3-2 win over Newcastle on Monday propelled the Blues back into contention for European football next season.

Pochettino had faced open revolt from among his own support during last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Brentford.

The former Tottenham boss has suffered a difficult first season at Stamford Bridge, which included losing the League Cup final to a severely depleted Liverpool last month.

Chelsea remain 11th in the Premier League table, but closed to within four points of West Ham in seventh, which should at least secure a place in the Europa Conference League.

“We need to stick together,” said Pochettino, whose side face Leicester in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.

“Until the end we are going to fight to try to give our fans the best things. It helped a little bit today we scored from the beginning, the fans were good and behind us. They need to trust in us.”

Newcastle’s 12th defeat of the season leaves the Magpies just one point better off than Chelsea in 10th.

The pressure is also rising on Eddie Howe as Saudi-backed Newcastle have failed to build on finishing fourth last season to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.

“All three goals are similar in their characteristics. We didn’t defend those situations well enough and if you do that you are going to lose games,” said Howe.

“I know we can hit the heights of previously, but we are not doing it anywhere near often enough.”

There were promising signs for Pochettino as some of his much-criticised expensive young recruits showed glimpses of their potential.

Nicolas Jackson is now up to 12 goals in his debut season as he cleverly flicked in Palmer’s shot after less than six minutes.

However, it was the story of Chelsea’s season that they failed to build on that flying start and allowed Newcastle to go onto control the rest of the first half.

The visitors were dealt an injury blow midway through the first period when Anthony Gordon was forced off.

But Alexander Isak produced a quality finish, fired low into the far corner, to bring Newcastle level two minutes before half-time.

The one new signing Chelsea have been able to rely on all season is Cole Palmer and the England international restored his side’s lead in emphatic fashion just before the hour mark.

Palmer collected Enzo Fernandez’s pass, cut inside and unleashed a powerful effort for his 11th Premier League goal of the season.

Mykhailo Mudryk, by contrast, has been a constant frustration for a number of Chelsea managers since joining for £88 million ($113 million) just over a year ago.

The Ukrainian had been on the pitch only five minutes when showed his blistering pace to burst through the heart of the Newcastle defence and turn in just his sixth goal in 46 Chelsea appearances.

Jacob Murphy’s rocket of a shot into the top corner set up a nervy finish for the hosts.

But it was too little, too late for the visitors in the latest disappointment of an underwhelming campaign.

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