Kai Havertz eased Chelsea’s gloom over Roman Abramovich’s sanctions as his late goal sealed a 1-0 win against Newcastle in the first home game since the Blues were plunged into crisis by the damaging restrictions.
Chelsea owner Abramovich has been sanctioned by the British government after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the fall-out has placed the future of the European champions in doubt.
With Chelsea’s monthly wage bill estimated at around £28 million ($36.5) and their revenue streams dramatically reduced by the sanctions, there are fears the club’s existence could be under threat unless a new owner is found soon.
Unable to sign players or renew contracts, Chelsea have seen sponsors Three and Hyundai suspend their deals with the club this week.
But Thomas Tuchel’s side have kept their heads amid the mayhem and Havertz struck late on to make it four successive wins since Abramovich announced he would sell the club in a move that failed to stop the sanctions.
Chelsea remain in third place in the Premier League and turn their attention to defending a 2-0 lead in the Champions League last 16 second leg clash with Lille on Wednesday.
Retaining their Champions League crown was Chelsea’s main goal just a week ago, but now it is the least of their concerns.
Chelsea were still wearing shirts with the Three logo despite the mobile phone company’s request for the them to be removed.
That defiance extended to the players, although Newcastle almost snatched the lead as Dan Burn’s header glanced narrowly wide before Miguel Almiron’s fierce volley forced a sprawling save from Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy.
Havertz settled it in the 89th minute, taking a superb touch to control Jorginho’s sublime long pass before slotting past Martin Dubravka to spark a fist-pumping celebration from Tuchel.