Football: All the pre-match talk was of the return to Tyneside of one player — Chelsea's new boy Demba Ba.
But it was his replacement Moussa Sissoko who enjoyed the better of this feisty five-goal thriller.
While Ba's day ended with no goals, a broken nose and the jeers of a sold-out St James' Park ringing in his ears, Sissoko's game ended with two goals, including a last-minute winner and the cheers of the Toon faithful serenading him from the pitch after a fine home debut.
He bossed the first half of Newcastle's mid-week game against Aston Villa, but would that the Magpies be able to build on the impetus created by influx of Frenchmen in the transfer window?
The answer was an emphatic yes as they went toe-to-toe with the champions of Europe for all but a brief spell in the second half.
"It was the game of the season," said Newcastle's jubilant manager Alan Pardew.
"We're not going to play better than that before the end of the season."
The game started slowly with the visitors being frustrated by a resilient Newcastle despite having most of the possession.
But after 20 minutes or so, the hosts slowly began to take control.
Ramires was booked for a challenge on Jonas Guttierez which, despite Alan Pardew's anger, wasn't worth a red.
Almost immediately the Chelsea bench was up in arms after Ba took a boot in the face from Fabricio Coloccini.
The ex-Magpie man beat his former captain to a long ball but could only shoot straight at Tim Krul.
The Newcastle keeper parried the ball and as Ba tried again with a header, which brushed the far post, Coloccini swung a boot that connected with head and not ball as he attempted to clear.
The striker returned to the field with his face heavily bandaged but never looked comfortable.
To rub salt into the wound Newcastle took the lead five minutes before the break, as Guttierez beat John Terry to head Davide Santon's left-wing cross past Petr Cech.
And Chelsea's woes deepened as Ba was then substituted due to his injury.
Rafa Benitez's view of the incident was clear.
"It as a penalty and a red card for me,” he said.
“In the replay it's very clear. a player with a broken nose left bleeding for five minutes is clear evidence."
While the interim Chelsea boss used it as a plea in mitigation for the defeat, it was hard to say the incident was the root cause of them again conceding late goals.
He added: "We were reacting in the second half really well but we gave them the chance to play counter attack. We didn't clear the second ball."
Chelsea did get back into the game after the restart as Lampard netted his sixth goal in seven league games, before Fernando Torres, on for Ba, set up Juan Mata to curle home from the edge of the area.
Newcastle came back with Sissoko leading the charge, brushing past Ashley Cole as if he was a callow youth team player on one foray.
Yoan Gouffran then stung Cech's palms and Sissoko was on hand to turn the loose ball into the net and claim the victory.
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