The in-form Papiss Cisse struck a brace today as Newcastle all but ended Chelseas hopes of Champions League qualification via league position. They now sit 4 points behind both Newcastle and Tottenham in joint-fourth with just two games remaining.
That leaves them having to win the competition against Bayern Munich on their own turf at the end of May, to ensure qualification for next season.
A goal in each half was enough to sink Chelsea, a great strike after 19 minutes was more than matched by an outstanding effort in injury time which sealed the points for the visitors, who have now won seven of their last eight, leaving the Wigan result from the weekend well in the back of their minds.
The one downside for the Magpies was that Tiote was forced to leave the match on a stretcher, which led to 10 minutes of injury time at the end of the match.
Chelsea had one eye on the impending FA Cup Final against Liverpool, and left Mata, Lampard and Cole on the bench, which was still no excuse for this poor display.
The game started pretty evenly, but when Santon found Cisse in space on the edge of the area, there was only one outcome, as the Senegalese striker rifled a shot high into the net, putting the away side in front after 19 minutes.
In fairness, Chelsea did look to be pressuring for an equaliser, and their aerial threat led to Ivanovic heading wide a great corner, while a Torres cross was horribly miscued by Malouda, leaving them one down at the break.
Mata replaced Sturridge at half-time, and Drogba came on for Meireles not long after, but still Chelsea could not form any viable openings in the United defence. Tiote was then stretchered off due to a clash of heads with Mikel, which the seven minute delay would spark new belief into the Stamford Bridge crowd, especially when the board showed 10 minutes of additional time.
Chelsea just could not penetrate the defensive unit of the Magpies, and even when John Terry beat Tim Krul, Santon was on the line to head clear.
All hopes were dashed soon after, as his powerful swerving effort beat the grasps of Petr Cech, leaving even his manager in shock. A true wonder-goal, enough to win any match.
Chelsea now must prepare for the FA Cup Final on the weekend, before playing Liverpool and Blackburn in the final two games of the season, before a Champions League Final with Munich, in Munich.
By Brad Smith