moved one point behind third-placed with a victory over a side who are now in the relegation zone.

Pedro gave the Blues an eighth-minute lead when he collected David Luiz’s ball over the top, took a touch, then shot past Martin Dubravka.

But equalised through Ciaran Clark’s powerful header when he got between Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz from Matt Ritchie’s corner.

Willian won it for in the second half with a fine curling finish after being played in by Eden Hazard.

The result leaves ’s side fourth, six points clear of Arsenal, who they face at Emirates Stadium in their next game on 19 January.

Sarri’s side do enough for the three points

had failed to score in their previous two league matches at Stamford Bridge – a 1-0 loss to Leicester and a goalless draw with – but they netted early on with Pedro’s seventh goal of the season in all competitions.

However, with Eden Hazard again featuring as a ‘false nine’ with Olivier Giroud on the bench and Alvaro Morata left out of the squad, they struggled to create further clear-cut chances before Clark equalised five minutes before the break.

There were boos heard inside Stamford Bridge at half-time, but Sarri’s side were greatly improved in the second half, with Hazard a much more prominent threat.

The Belgian led ’s attack, which resulted in their second goal as he ran at the defence, offloaded to Willian who, from a tight angle, cut inside onto his right foot and curled a beautiful effort past Dubravka with the ball going in off the post.

With nine minutes left, 18-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi, the subject of a £35m bid from German champions Bayern Munich, came on for only his second appearance.

The home fans chanted “we want you to stay” in the direction of the talented winger, who was part of England’s Under-17 World Cup triumph in 2017 and has 18 months left on his current deal.

drop into the bottom three

started the day 15th in the , but wins for Burnley and – along with Cardiff drawing – leaves Rafael Benitez’s side in the bottom three.

Benitez won the manager of the month award in November, but since then they have only won one match in 10 in all competitions.

With the Spaniard unlikely to be given any money to make further signings – amid ongoing uncertainty about a possible takeover – there are real concerns that the club could drop into the second tier after only two seasons back in the top flight.

Before the game, Benitez said that the club’s “reality” was “having to compete in a division when we cannot compete against Bournemouth, who are spending money”.

At Stamford Bridge, had late chances to snatch a point, but Ritchie shot over the bar and headed a chance wide.

face a hugely important home game against Cardiff in their next league match, before tough assignments against and .

Another failure against a top-six side – the stats

  • have only lost one of their 12 matches at Stamford Bridge this season, drawing four and winning the other seven.
  • ’s total of 18 points from their opening 22 matches is their lowest tally at this stage of a top-flight season since 1988-89 campaign (17 points), with the Magpies going on to be relegated under manager Jim Smith.
  • (played four, won three and drew one) are on their longest unbeaten league run since losing none of their opening 12 league games under manager (played 12, won eight and drew four).
  • have now lost 10 straight top-flight matches away from home against sides starting the day in the top four, last winning such a match back in November 2010 against Arsenal (played 26, won none, drew three, lost 23 since).
  • Rafael Benitez has now lost six of his eight away league games against former employers in the (won one, drew one), including his two as boss.
  • ’s Eden Hazard has both scored (10) and assisted (10) at least 10 goals in league games this season – the only other player within the top five an Leagues to have also done so in 2018-19 is Barcelona’s (16 goals, 10 assists).
  • Pedro has now scored three goals in his two starts against at Stamford Bridge – against no other side in the competition has the Spaniard netted more goals for (three, level with Bournemouth).
  • Of players with at least 10 goals, only Ugo Ehiogu (84%) and David Wetherall (87%) have scored a higher percentage of their goals via their head than ’s Kieran Clark (83%).

‘We slept for 20 minutes’ – what they said

boss speaking to BBC Sport: “Today was very important to get points. We started well but after the goal we slept for 20 minutes, so by the end of the first half we were in trouble.

“We were better in the second half. I’m very happy with the result but we need to improve mentally and technically because we lost a lot of the ball in a stupid way.

“I think our wingers attacked the space better than in the last five or six matches but we need to attack the box better.”

manager Rafael Benitez speaking to BBC Sport: “We conceded a goal we could avoid but after that we were fighting for every ball. These players care, you could see that.

“We scored and then controlled the last few minutes of the first half so it’s a pity, but a piece of quality made the difference.

“You could see a lot of positives with the performance but no points. We knew that they would keep the ball and we had to maximise what we did when we got the ball. We had some chances on the counter but our final pass wasn’t there.”

What’s next?

Next up for is an away game at Arsenal on Saturday, 19 January (17:30 GMT).

play their FA Cup third-round replay against Championship side Blackburn on Tuesday, 15 January (19:45 GMT), before returning to league action on Saturday when they host Cardiff City (15:00 GMT)

Line-ups

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 2Rüdiger
  • 30David Luiz
  • 3Alonso
  • 7Kanté
  • 5JorginhoBooked at 63mins
  • 17KovacicSubstituted forBarkleyat 63′minutes
  • 11PedroSubstituted forHudson-Odoiat 81′minutes
  • 10E HazardSubstituted forGiroudat 87′minutes
  • 22Willian

Substitutes

  • 8Barkley
  • 13Caballero
  • 18Giroud
  • 20Hudson-Odoi
  • 27Christensen
  • 33Emerson
  • 44Ampadu

  • 12Dubravka
  • 22YedlinSubstituted forManquilloat 82′minutes
  • 20Lejeune
  • 6Lascelles
  • 2Clark
  • 11RitchieBooked at 24mins
  • 17PérezSubstituted forMurphyat 82′minutes
  • 36Longstaff
  • 14Hayden
  • 30Atsu
  • 9Rondón

Substitutes

  • 5Schär
  • 7Murphy
  • 18Fernandez
  • 19Manquillo
  • 21Joselu
  • 25Sterry
  • 41Woodman
Referee:
Chris Kavanagh
Attendance:
40,491

Match Stats

Home TeamAway Team
Possession
Home66%
Away34%
Shots
Home10
Away9
Shots on Target
Home6
Away2
Corners
Home8
Away5
Fouls
Home6
Away13

Live Text

Corner, United. Conceded by David Luiz.

Attempt blocked. Sean Longstaff ( United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Javier Manquillo.

Offside, . Marcos Alonso tries a through ball, but Willian is caught offside.

Jorginho () wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Sean Longstaff ( United).

Corner, . Conceded by Javier Manquillo.

Callum Hudson-Odoi () wins a free kick on the right wing.

Substitution

Substitution, . Olivier Giroud replaces Eden Hazard.

Attempt missed. Salomón Rondón ( United) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Javier Manquillo with a cross.

Offside, . Jorginho tries a through ball, but Callum Hudson-Odoi is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, United. Javier Manquillo replaces DeAndre Yedlin.

Substitution

Substitution, United. Jacob Murphy replaces Ayoze Pérez.

Attempt missed. Matt Ritchie ( United) right footed shot from the left side of the box is too high. Assisted by DeAndre Yedlin with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, . Callum Hudson-Odoi replaces Pedro.

Corner, United. Conceded by César Azpilicueta.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match David Luiz () because of an injury.

David Luiz () wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ayoze Pérez ( United).

Offside, . David Luiz tries a through ball, but Pedro is caught offside.

Attempt missed. David Luiz () right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left from a direct free kick.

Marcos Alonso () wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Ayoze Pérez ( United).

Marcos Alonso () wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by DeAndre Yedlin ( United).

David Luiz () wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ayoze Pérez ( United).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Jamaal Lascelles ( United) because of an injury.

Corner, . Conceded by Jamaal Lascelles.

Attempt saved. Willian () right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by David Luiz with a through ball.

Substitution

Substitution, . Ross Barkley replaces Mateo Kovacic.

Booking

Jorginho () is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Jorginho ().

Salomón Rondón ( United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, . Pedro tries a through ball, but Eden Hazard is caught offside.

Goal!

Goal! 2, United 1. Willian () right footed shot from the left side of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Eden Hazard.