Chelsea 3 Newcastle 0
Michy Batshuayis’ first-half double and Marcos Alonso’s stunning free-kick ensured Chelsea’s place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Batshuayi’s goals had put the Blues well in control after an unconvincing opening 45 minutes, but Alonso curled home a third in the latter stages of a much-improved second half to make it 3-0.
The Blues had struggled to get a foothold at the start of a cagey fourth-round tie lacking chances, where Newcastle looked sharper and brighter.
But a brilliant team move saw Pedro play in Eden Hazard and his pass to Alonso allowed the left wing-back to set up the simplest of goals for the much-maligned Batshuayi on 31 minutes.
And, after Antonio Rudiger’s rasping shot went just wide, the Belgian made it 2-0 with a deflected strike that looped up and into the net following another fine move which once again saw Hazard fully involved with a neat pass to his fellow countryman.
But Chelsea, who have now reached the fifth round of the FA Cup for 18 of the past 20 seasons, were far from their best, losing possession too easily and regularly.
And some increasingly sloppy defensive play meant Willy Caballero had to make decent saves from both Jonjo Shelvey and Chancel Mbemba to preserve the two-goal advantage before the interval.
Conte’s men looked much more solid after the resumption and could have added a third from Pedro’s fierce 20-yard strike, which went just over, and Alonso’s first-time volley from Davide Zappacosta’s deep cross.
Alonso’s trademark free-kick seemingly made the game safe and allowed the Blues to introduce 17-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi for his debut late on.
Batshuayi was twice denied a hat-trick by Magpies keeper Karl Darlow as Chelsea dominated the final moments, but the hosts could not add a fourth goal.
Chelsea: Caballero; Rudiger, Christensen, Cahill; Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Kante [Ampadu 78], Alonso; Pedro [Hudson-Odoi 81], Batshuayi, Hazard [Barkley 73].
Subs not used: Eduardo, Moses, Fabregas, Musonda.