Chelsea manager Antonio Conte took the blame as his side missed out on a place in next season’s Champions League after losing to an outstanding Newcastle on the last day of the Premier League campaign.
The Blues had a chance of sneaking into the top four by beating the Magpies, but Liverpool’s victory over Brighton means they finish fifth and must settle for a Europa League spot.
Last year’s champions were second best throughout the game at St James’ Park and fell behind through Dwight Gayle’s close-range header.
“We deserved to lose because our start wasn’t good and we suffered by losing every ball. Newcastle were more determined than us,” Conte said.
“We didn’t lose our Champions League place today, we had chances in the last two games, but to finish the season this way is not good for anyone connected to the club.
“When you are at the end of the season, this performance can happen, but the first person to answer for this must be the coach. I wasn’t able to convey that determination to my players.”
A barrage at goal from the hosts forced visiting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make sharp saves from the impressive Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame.
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But Ayoze Perez poked home twice in the second period as his side finished the season in 10th position.
Chelsea’s best chance fell to striker Olivier Giroud, but the Frenchman’s acrobatic effort was tipped away by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
They have the opportunity to end the season on a positive note in next Saturday’s FA Cup final against Manchester United (kick-off 17:15 BST).
After the game, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley released a statement thanking boss Rafael Benitez for his “magnificent achievement”, saying he hoped the Spaniard would remain at the club.
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