Premier League
Chelsea3Crystal Palace1

Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace

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'Fragile' Morata still needs to improve - Sarri

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata is "fragile" and "needs to improve" despite scoring two goals in the win against Crystal Palace, says Blues boss Maurizio Sarri.

The Spain international inspired the hosts to a victory which took them above Liverpool and into second place in the Premier League.

Morata has netted 14 times in 40 league appearances since joining from Real Madrid for a then club record £60m in July 2017.

Asked after the match whether Morata can be the main striker at Stamford Bridge, Sarri told BBC Sport: "I don't know. I think potentially he can.

"He has to improve more in personality and in confidence - because sometimes he's a little bit fragile."

Hazard makes impact on return

The headlines will be about Morata - and the former Real Madrid and Juventus forward has now scored five Premier League goals, plus another in the Europa League, this season.

Yet the return of Eden Hazard added much needed energy and flair to a team that had struggled to open up Palace for the first hour.

Having missed the previous three league and cup games with a back injury, the Belgium international did not take long to make an impact after replacing Willian in the 64th minute with the score locked at 1-1.

Ninety-one seconds after his introduction, Chelsea were back in the lead after Palace's defence failed to deal with Hazard's free-kick into box, allowing Morata to drill home.

And five minutes later it was 3-1. Pedro - who had delivered the pass for Morata to break the deadlock in the first half - produced an unstoppable finish from Marcos Alonso's low cross.

"We were in a little bit of trouble so we needed some quality, some personality," added Sarri. "We were lucky today because Eden was on the bench so he was able immediately to change the match."

Since arriving in the summer of 2017, Morata has struggled to convince his critics he is a consistent goal source for Chelsea.

Yet his performance against Palace could well win him a few more admirers - even though he missed a chance to complete his hat-trick in the closing stages after being sent clean through by Hazard.

Premier League, top of the table snapshot: 1st Manchester City, 2nd Chelsea, 3rd Liverpool, 4th Tottenham, 5th Arsenal, 6th Bournemouth

Will Palace stay out of danger?

Andros Townsend's lovely equaliser after James McArthur sent him clear raised hopes Palace could leave Stamford Bridge with a potentially vital point.

Instead, they are without a win in six league matches and must plan for their next game at home to Tottenham on the back of a fourth defeat in five top-flight games.

After Spurs next Saturday, Palace's first game after the international break is at Manchester United on 24 November.

Having been knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Championship side Middlesbrough in midweek, Palace started well against Chelsea.

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Results will come for Eagles - Roy Hodgson

With Wilfried Zaha causing problems at one end of the pitch and Mamadou Sakho strong at the other, Chelsea became frustrated until Morata scored with their first shot on target.

Chelsea have managed just two clean sheets in nine league and cup home games this season and Townsend's quality finish against the run of play - only Palace's eighth top-flight goal of the campaign - left them in sight of a first away point since 15 September.

Instead, Palace have now lost four in a row away from home and problems appear to be mounting for manager Roy Hodgson.

"The season has got a lot of football left in it and there's many more games to play," he said.

"I'm fairly confident with the players we have and the way we play that results will come. If you continue to perform at the right level the results have got to follow."

Man of the match - Alvaro Morata

Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring for Chelsea against Crystal Palace
It is 14 months since Alvaro Morata last scored a hat-trick for Chelsea and he should have been celebrating another against Palace. However, he impressed with two clinical finishes to help his side go second in the table.

Good omen? The stats

  • Chelsea are undefeated in their opening 11 Premier League matches of this season - they won the league in the previous two seasons they achieved this (2005-06 and 2014-15).
  • Blues boss Maurizio Sarri is unbeaten in his first 11 Premier League games as Chelsea manager - this is the joint-longest unbeaten start by a manager new to the competition, equalling the record set by Frank Clark in 1994.
  • Crystal Palace have taken just five points from their past 10 league matches.
  • Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata has scored four goals in his past four Premier League games - one more than in his previous 23 appearances in the competition combined (3).
  • Chelsea's Eden Hazard has assisted in three consecutive league appearances as a substitute.
  • Crystal Palace's Andros Townsend has scored three Premier League goals against Chelsea - more than he has against any other opponent.
  • Chelsea's Pedro has ended on the winning side in 39 of the 40 top-flight home matches he has scored in during his career (26 of 27 with Barcelona, 13 of 13 with Chelsea), drawing the other with Villarreal in January 2010.

What's next?

Chelsea are on their Europa League travels to Belarus to face Bate Borisov on Thursday (17:55 GMT) while Palace face another tough match at home to Tottenham in the league next Saturday (17:30 GMT).

Line-ups

Chelsea

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 2Rüdiger
  • 30David Luiz
  • 3Alonso
  • 7Kanté
  • 5JorginhoSubstituted forFàbregasat 80'minutes
  • 8BarkleySubstituted forKovacicat 64'minutes
  • 11Pedro
  • 29Morata
  • 22WillianSubstituted forE Hazardat 64'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Fàbregas
  • 10E Hazard
  • 12Loftus-Cheek
  • 13Caballero
  • 17Kovacic
  • 21Zappacosta
  • 24Cahill

Crystal Palace

  • 13Hennessey
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 5Tomkins
  • 12Sakho
  • 3van Aanholt
  • 18McArthurSubstituted forSchluppat 80'minutes
  • 8Kouyaté
  • 4MilivojevicBooked at 86mins
  • 7MeyerSubstituted forJ Ayewat 71'minutes
  • 10Townsend
  • 11Zaha

Substitutes

  • 9Sørloth
  • 14J Ayew
  • 15Schlupp
  • 31Guaita
  • 34Kelly
  • 42Puncheon
  • 44Riedewald
Referee:
Michael Oliver
Attendance:
40,407

Match Stats

Home TeamChelseaAway TeamCrystal Palace
Possession
Home74%
Away26%
Shots
Home15
Away7
Shots on Target
Home6
Away2
Corners
Home4
Away2
Fouls
Home6
Away13

Live Text

Match ends, Chelsea 3, Crystal Palace 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Chelsea 3, Crystal Palace 1.

Attempt saved. Álvaro Morata (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Eden Hazard with a through ball.

Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by César Azpilicueta.

Attempt blocked. Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Pedro (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace).

Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Cheikhou Kouyaté (Crystal Palace).

Booking

Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card.

Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace).

Foul by Pedro (Chelsea).

Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Offside, Chelsea. Pedro tries a through ball, but Álvaro Morata is caught offside.

Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jeffrey Schlupp (Crystal Palace).

Substitution

Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jeffrey Schlupp replaces James McArthur.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Cesc Fàbregas replaces Jorginho.

Attempt missed. Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by N'Golo Kanté.

Attempt missed. Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Luka Milivojevic.

David Luiz (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace).

Substitution

Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jordan Ayew replaces Max Meyer.

Goal!

Goal! Chelsea 3, Crystal Palace 1. Pedro (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Marcos Alonso with a cross.

Goal!

Goal! Chelsea 2, Crystal Palace 1. Álvaro Morata (Chelsea) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Eden Hazard with a cross following a set piece situation.

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

Foul by Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace).

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Mateo Kovacic replaces Ross Barkley.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Eden Hazard replaces Willian.

Attempt missed. David Luiz (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Willian with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Wayne Hennessey.

Attempt saved. David Luiz (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Willian with a cross.

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

Foul by Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace).

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by James Tomkins.

Attempt blocked. Álvaro Morata (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Willian with a through ball.

Attempt saved. Max Meyer (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Wilfried Zaha.

Attempt saved. Willian (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Pedro.

Offside, Chelsea. César Azpilicueta tries a through ball, but Álvaro Morata is caught offside.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Man City119203342929
2Chelsea118302781927
3Liverpool118302151627
4Tottenham118031910924
5Arsenal1172225141123
6Bournemouth116232014620
7Man Utd116231918120
8Watford116141613319
9Everton115331915418
10Leicester115151716116
11Wolves114341112-115
12Brighton114251216-414
13West Ham113261317-411
14Crystal Palace11227816-88
15Burnley112271225-138
16Southampton11146720-137
17Newcastle11137714-76
18Cardiff11128924-155
19Fulham101271128-175
20Huddersfield10037421-173
View full Premier League table

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