Connor Gallagher spearheaded a late comeback as Chelsea ended Crystal Palace’s brave resistance with two late goals to wrap up a 3-1 win at Selhurst Park.
A subdued Chelsea had struggled to break down a well-organised Palace side in the first half, with Roy Hodgson’s team playing predominately on the counter-attack and causing plenty of problems in doing so.
Jefferson Lerma’s beautiful long-range strike meant Palace led at the break, but – following a half-time delay while referee Michael Oliver’s technical equipment was fixed – Chelsea equalised moments after the restart, as an unmarked Gallagher finished well in the box.
And the much-improved visitors grabbed the win at the death when a rare opportunity to catch Palace overstretched saw Cole Palmer find Gallagher on the edge of the box to drill home his second.
There was still time for Chelsea to rub salt into the wounds as the Palace fans streamed for the exit, with Enzo Fernandez coolly converting at the end of another late counter.
The win sends Chelsea into the top half of the Premier League, while Palace remain in 15th, five points clear of the drop zone.
Talking Point – Roy Hodgson deserves credit
The tactics from Crystal Palace were not complicated – defend deep, in banks, and hit Chelsea as quickly as possible on the break.
But Hodgson’s approach very nearly paid off, with Jean-Philippe Mateta doing an impressive job up top to ensure the counter-attacking threat was always there.
Palace could easily have ended up taking something from this match and Hodgson should take some credit for a performance that delivered attacking potential even without his star men Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise.
Player Of The Match – Conor Gallagher (Chelsea)
This was far from a vintage performance from Chelsea, but Gallagher was outstanding, in the second half particularly, running the game in his advanced central midfield role.
And the former Crystal Palace man proved the difference on the night, producing two excellent finishes to secure all three points at the ground he temporarily called home a couple of years ago.
Oh my word, what a goal that is! Palace break and it’s Mateta in the thick of the action again, crossing right into the mixer. Chelsea scramble it away, but Palace win the ball back through Mitchell and Lerma, and the latter has enough space to line up a long-range shot that flies into the top corner. That’s an absolute peach and Palace have the lead. 1-0!
47’ – GOAL! CRYSTAL PALACE 1-1 CHELSEA (GALLAGHER)
That didn’t take long! Chelsea carve open Palace, getting big numbers up into the box and Gallagher meets a cross in space and finishes well against the club where he performed so admirably on loan. 1-1!
90’ – GOAL! CRYSTAL PALACE 1-2 CHELSEA (GALLAGHER)
Gallagher got it! Chelsea get a rare opportunity to break on Palace and Palmer does well to lift his head up on the right flank and pick out Gallagher on the edge of the box, who sweeps his shot home first time, with an almost Lampard-like effort. 2-1 Chelsea!
94’ – GOAL! CRYSTAL PALACE 1-3 CHELSEA (ENZO)
That’s the game! Chelsea break as Palace throw bodies forward looking for an equaliser. It’s Palmer again who brings the ball forward and finds Enzo, and he sits down the defender before giving the keeper the eyes and finishing with style. 3-1 and game over.