Premier League
ChelseaChelsea2Crystal PalaceCrystal Palace1

Chelsea 2-1 Crystal Palace

By David OrnsteinBBC Sport
Fernando Torres and Willian

Petr Cech made a string of second-half saves as Chelsea hung on to edge past a rejuvenated Crystal Palace and move within two points of leaders Arsenal.

Fernando Torres tapped in to put the Blues ahead at Stamford Bridge after Willian's shot rebounded off a post.

Palace equalised via Marouane Chamakh's volley from a Joel Ward cross before Ramires curled Chelsea back in front.

Cech denied Jason Puncheon, Damien Delaney and, crucially, Stuart O'Keefe as the hosts scraped to victory.

That said, the home side had two glorious late chances to relieve the tension, only for Ramires to miscue on both occasions.

Boss Jose Mourinho said Chelsea were "in trouble" after losing at Stoke last weekend, but they are now within touching distance of the top.

While it is a contrasting picture for Palace, who remain in the relegation zone, they should take heart from another encouraging performance.

The improved organisation and confidence they have shown since Tony Pulis took over as manager last month was evident throughout - and they will be disappointed that a sequence of three wins in four games and four clean sheets in five matches has come to an end.

Mourinho enjoying Chelsea 'transition'

With a well-drilled back four, the calming influence of captain Mile Jedinak in midfield and a two-pronged attack in Chamakh and Cameron Jerome, the Eagles posed a constant threat.

But their impressive work was undone when Willian was given too much time and space to produce a low strike that Julian Speroni pushed on to a post, Torres reacting quickly to convert the rebound.

Branislav Ivanovic then drilled narrowly wide for the hosts from an acute angle after collecting a Juan Mata backheel and bursting into the box.

But Palace maintained their composure as Chelsea struggled to establish a consistent tempo, and they were rewarded when Ward's left-wing centre was guided into the bottom corner by Chamakh.

The equaliser was deserved but Chelsea's creative players gradually started to increase their influence - Willian, Mata, Eden Hazard and the ever-energetic Ramires linking effectively with lone striker Torres.

Pulis banks on Palace home form

It was Willian and Hazard who combined to tee up Ramires and he restored the hosts' advantage with a superb bending effort that Speroni, unsighted by defenders, could do nothing to keep out.

Willian squandered a chance to extend the lead before half-time and it was Palace who rallied after the break, Cech beating away a Puncheon shot before saving Delaney's header.

They continued to push for an equaliser as Chelsea continued to labour - even with Oscar now on the pitch - and substitute Yannick Bolasie and Delaney headed off target from promising positions.

Cech made a brilliant one-handed stop to thwart O'Keefe before Ivanovic scrambled clear, before Delaney again went close with a header.

The home fans grew restless and their team responded, Ramires scuffing a pass that would have meant a tap-in for a team-mate and shooting wide after Speroni denied Andre Schurrle and Demba Ba.

But Chelsea came through and can now focus on Tuesday's League Cup quarter-final at Sunderland.

Line-ups

Chelsea

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Cech
  • 2IvanovicBooked at 69mins
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 5EssienBooked at 58mins
  • 4David Luiz
  • 26Terry
  • 22WillianSubstituted forSchürrleat 82'minutes
  • 7Santos do Nascimento
  • 9TorresSubstituted forBaat 84'minutes
  • 10MataSubstituted forOscarat 62'minutes
  • 17E Hazard

Substitutes

  • 3Cole
  • 8Lampard
  • 11Oscar
  • 14Schürrle
  • 19Ba
  • 23Schwarzer
  • 29Eto'o

Crystal Palace

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Speroni
  • 3Mariappa
  • 2Ward
  • 15Jedinak
  • 19Gabbidon
  • 27Delaney
  • 46BannanSubstituted forBolasieat 51'minutes
  • 8DikgacoiSubstituted forO'Keefeat 26'minutes
  • 30Jerome
  • 29ChamakhBooked at 43minsSubstituted forGayleat 88'minutes
  • 13Puncheon

Substitutes

  • 4Parr
  • 6Campaña
  • 7Bolasie
  • 12O'Keefe
  • 16Gayle
  • 20Williams
  • 34Price
Referee:
Mark Clattenburg
Attendance:
41,608

Match Stats

Home TeamChelseaAway TeamCrystal Palace
Possession
Home70%
Away30%
Shots
Home16
Away10
Shots on Target
Home7
Away5
Corners
Home3
Away1
Fouls
Home13
Away7

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Chelsea 2, Crystal Palace 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Chelsea 2, Crystal Palace 1.

  3. Post update

    Foul by César Azpilicueta (Chelsea).

  4. Post update

    Dwight Gayle (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. David Luiz (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  6. Post update

    Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Cameron Jerome (Crystal Palace).

  8. Post update

    Foul by Ramires (Chelsea).

  9. Post update

    Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ramires (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right.

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Demba Ba (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  12. Post update

    Attempt saved. Andre Schürrle (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ramires.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Crystal Palace. Dwight Gayle replaces Marouane Chamakh.

  14. Post update

    Demba Ba (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace).

  16. Post update

    Foul by Andre Schürrle (Chelsea).

  17. Post update

    Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Chelsea. Demba Ba replaces Fernando Torres.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Andre Schürrle (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Chelsea. Andre Schürrle replaces Willian.