STEVE BRUCE has paid tribute to his players for displaying the right character to stay with Chelsea which paved the way for Isaac Hayden to head a late winner for Newcastle United.

The Magpies - who fear Jetro Willems will be out for months after being stretchered off in the 12th minute - stopped the rot of home defeats in the Premier League in style by snatching a dramatic three points against Frank Lampard’s men who occupy fourth in the Premier League.

Newcastle’s goal led a charmed life at times as Martin Dubravka was called into action but it was hardly the best advert for the English top-flight.

As the game was heading for a draw Hayden arrived in the penalty area in the fourth minute of added time to convert Allan Saint-Maximim's delivery.

It sealed Newcastle's first league win since December 21 to lift them seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Bruce said: “Smash and grab, one thing we have proven is that we are difficult to beat, difficult to play against.

"Yes, it’s not pretty to watch, but when I see them stick to the game plan … we have to look after the ball better, we turned over the ball too often. But their resilience was there for all to see.

“I overruled my assistant manager (Steve Agnew), he wanted Isaac back for that corner. It was difficult. A corner in the last minute, two centre-backs wondering if they should go up, Matt Ritchie hit the first man with the corner, but it turned into our night, little things give you three points.

“It would have ben good had Joelinton scored in the first half, he was a handful today, you could see the difference in him. He fed off scraps, overall his performance was good, he never gave up.”

Newcastle have had an awful injury list of late and Willems was forced off inside 12 minutes with a suspected knee ligament injury after a collision with Callum Hudsonn-Odoi.

“When you put Isaac up from wing back and he scores, it is a little luck and we deserve that,” said Bruce. “It looks horrendous for Jetro, it doesn’t look great for Paul Dummett either.

"In that area, within four or five days, we have a problem now. We are due a bit of luck, I have never known anything like it over the last few weeks. Jetro, we fear cruciate.

“But I am taking the credit for keeping Isaac up there. I overruled Aggers. Isaac, the beauty of him, he can play everywhere, I don’t think he was happy when I put him to wing-back, I had to explain why.

“He played very well in emergence there he has that versatility, he can play practically anywhere, which helps as a manager.”

Newcastle are closing in on signing Inter Milan winger Valentino Lazaro, with reports in Italy suggesting the deal is close.

Bruce said: “I really can’t (say). I haven’t spoken with my CEO today. I don’t want to comment on anyone’s players. We have one or two things spinning.”

Lampard was left wondering how Chelsea lost. He said: “We didn’t score, if you control the game, they had three headers, and it has been the story of parts of our season, we have had great parts, but if you don’t score enough goals …

“They are organised in what they do and good at what they do, they didn’t come out the second half, so you are always open to what happened if you don’t score.

“We want to win games and when you play well, we had the main share of possession in every game we have had, it is a strong stat. We want to score goals and that is what wins games, clear.

“I thought we probed, changed the play, we had to move it from side to side quickly, at times first half slow, but when we attacked them there were so many moments. The finish was just short.”

NEWCASTLE UNITED (3-4-2-1): Dubravka; Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark; Krafth (S Longstaff 71), Hayden, Shelvey (M Longstaff 82), Willems (Ritchie 12); Saint-Maximim, Almiron; Joelinton. Subs (not used): Darlow (gk), Schar, Lejeune, Atsu.

CHELSEA (4-3-2-1): Kepa; James (Emerson 75), Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Jorginho, Kante, Mount (Barkley 67, 5); Hudson-Odoi, Willian; Abraham 5 (Batshuayi 80). Subs (not used): Caballero (gk), Pedro, Zouma, Kovacic.