Rafael Benitez bemoaned individual mistakes after Newcastle failed to capitalise on an early lead during the 3-1 defeat at Chelsea.
Dwight Gayle gave the Magpies a 12th-minute lead but Eden Hazard equalised nine minutes later before Alvaro Morata headed the champions into the lead.
Hazard’s second-half penalty capped off a defeat that means Newcastle have now taken just one point from their last six league games.
Benitez, who won the Europa League during his stint as Chelsea boss believes Hazard has improved since his time in charge.
“He was quite good at that time, he is even better now, he has experience and can make the difference in many games,” Benitez said.
“It is a pity because we started really well and then made mistakes.
“They have a lot of good things, they have to compete for the title. It is obvious they will be one of the teams in the top three. We did well.”