London: Frank Lampard missed a penalty but Didier Drogba scored with a header as Chelsea avoided a sixth defeat in 10 games with a 3-0 win at mourning Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday.
With the home fans paying tribute to late captain Gary Speed, found dead last Sunday at the age of 42, Newcastle looked lively on an emotional end-to-end lunchtime kickoff match at St James` Park.
Chelsea, now third on 28 points and ahead of Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference, were fortunate to go in 1-0 up at the break through Drogba`s booming 38th-minute header off a Juan Mata cross.
In a game that hung in the balance until the closing minutes, they then grabbed two late goals with Salomon Kalou in the 89th and Daniel Sturridge in stoppage time for a more flattering scoreline.
The visitors could have been either a man down or two goals up after just 25 minutes of a frenetic first half, with defender David Luiz lucky not to be shown a red card in the fourth for felling Newcastle`s Demba Ba on the edge of the area.
Ten minutes later and Chelsea looked sure to break the ice when Yohan Cabaye tripped Sturridge as the striker burst into the area.
Referee Mike Dean pointed to the penalty spot and Lampard stepped up, only to see his shot tipped against the upright by Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul for his fourth penalty miss in the Premier League.
Sturridge was denied by the post two minutes later and then let slip an even better chance when he shot straight at Krul, who kept Newcastle in the game with repeated saves, in the 22nd.
At the other end, Chelsea`s masked keeper Petr Cech tipped over to deny Ba what would have been a stunning 24th-minute goal and was again in action 10 minutes later when the striker hit the post with the defence in disarray.
Drogba made it 1-0 in the 38th and could have doubled his tally in the 52nd while Newcastle had a Sammy Ameobi shot cleared off the line by John Terry 16 minutes from time.
Shola Ameobi also hit the bar in the 80th with brother Sammy`s follow-up saved by Cech.
Newcastle stayed fifth pending later matches.
Leaders Manchester City (35 points) were playing at home to Norwich City and Tottenham hosting lowly Bolton Wanderers while second placed Manchester United (30 points) travelled to Aston Villa for the evening game.
The rolling advertising hoardings around Newcastle`s ground paid tribute to `Gary Speed Legend` before the start with fans chanting his name and a makeshift shrine outside the stadium.
Wreaths were laid and a minute`s applause held before the Championship (second division) match at Elland Road between Leeds United and Millwall.
Speed was a member of the Leeds team that won the last First Division title in 1992, before the start of the Premier League.
An emotional Gary McAllister, wiping away tears, joined former team mates Gordon Strachan and David Batty in laying a wreath on the edge of the centre circle.