Premier League
Crystal Palace2Chelsea3

Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea: Blues beat Palace despite Wilfried Zaha stunner

Olivier Giroud scores for Chelsea against Crystal Palace
Giroud opened the scoring with his third goal for Chelsea since the Premier League restart

Chelsea further strengthened their position in the Premier League's top four with victory over Crystal Palace in an entertaining encounter at Selhurst Park, that included a stunning long-range strike from Wilfried Zaha and a rare goal from Christian Benteke.

There was an element of fortune about the game's opening goal, with Palace defender Gary Cahill pulling up with a match-ending injury to allow Willian to charge into the box unimpeded and set up Olivier Giroud to finish.

But the rest of the match was a testament to the kind of competitive, high-octane, see-saw football that draws so many viewers to the English top flight, even when the grounds are empty of fans.

Twice Chelsea looked to have put the game beyond the home side, first through Christian Pulisic's rising shot to make it 2-0 in the first half and then via Tammy Abraham's neat finish with 19 minutes to go to put the Blues 3-1 up.

But this reckoned without the input of Zaha and Benteke.

Zaha's goal was a superb strike, fiercely fired into the net via the crossbar from an unlikely distance. Benteke's was more routine, tapped in from point-blank range following a neat move, but almost as surprising, it being his first goal at Selhurst Park since April 2018.

And Palace came within a whisker of snatching a point when Scott Dann's back-post header struck the inside of the post before Chelsea hacked the ball clear.

Chelsea's win means they move above Leicester into third place in the table, five points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United.

With 42 to their name, Palace have too many points to worry about being dragged into a relegation fight, but manager Roy Hodgson and his side will be eager to end a losing streak that has now stretched to four games.

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Chelsea can't keep making mistakes in defence - Lampard

Chelsea get the job done

Chelsea suffered a notable blip when they were beaten at West Ham six days ago, but apart from that their restart has gone pretty much to plan.

A return of 12 points from a possible 15 has ensured they remain firmly in the mix for a place in next season's Champions League.

They are now above Leicester and have an advantage over the teams below them who pose the biggest threat to their Champions League hopes - Manchester United and Wolves.

Their performance once again showcased the attacking flair Frank Lampard has at his disposal, especially in Willian, who now has a couple of assists to go with the four goals he has scored since the restart, and Pulisic, who scored his third post-lockdown goal.

However, there remains a fragility at the back, with Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen not the most solid of centre-back pairings, although the former did produce a stunning late tackle to deny Benteke.

In front of them, Lampard opted for young midfielder Billy Gilmour in the absence of the injured N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, which leaves further question marks over the future of Jorginho, who came on for the final 10 minutes but has yet to start a game since football returned.

However, in this compacted season finale and with the end goal in sight, wins are more important that perfect performances.

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Chelsea can't keep making mistakes in defence - Lampard

Lampard said as much himself when speaking to BBC Sport.

"There were moments in the game where our game-management wasn't great," said the Chelsea boss. "At 2-0 we can dominate that game and finish it. When we went 3-2 up we had chances to finish the game and were sloppy.

"But at this point, three points is the critical thing."

Despite the attacking prowess they demonstrated, Lampard felt his side should have made the game more comfortable for themselves in the closing stages.

"For the chances we create we don't score enough goals," he added. "It changes the face of a game when you have chances and don't take them and nerves kick in.

"And you can't feel secure in football matches if you keep giving goals away. We still have to learn from moments in our game and be better."

Positives and negatives for Palace

This was probably the best Palace have played during their run of four straight losses and certainly the most threatening they have looked.

A large part of that is down to Zaha.

It has been a frustrating season for the 27-year-old forward, who looked like he might leave Palace last summer but ultimately stayed and has since struggled to recapture the form that had other clubs circling.

But despite his failure to regularly hit the heights of which he is capable, he remains a potent attacking weapon, as he demonstrated with 10 minutes to go in the first half.

More renowned for his speed, driving runs and trickery, his goal was more of a tribute to the Tony Yeboah school of finishing - a rasping effort from an unlikely distance that gave the goalkeeper no chance.

It is only his fourth goal of the season and his first since mid-December.

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Zaha one of best players in Premier League - Hodgson

"When Wilf is in that type of form he shows he is one of the best players in the Premier League," said Palace boss Roy Hodgson.

"It is good for us because when you have him in that type of form you feel like you have a great chance of winning a match."

Benteke has fared even worse in front of goal, with this just his second in the league this campaign from 23 appearances, but he showed an awareness that has often been lacking to be in the right place to finish Patrick van Aanholt's low cross.

Sadly for Palace, on a night of rare recent positives they leave with no points and must now wait to see the extent of Cahill's injury.

"I thought the fighting spirit, the way we played and the determination means at this moment in time we don't feel too disappointed," added Hodgson.

"But three weeks from now people will say that this is another defeat for Palace, it is four in a row and they are playing badly. We need to be strong and know we are not playing badly."

Man of the match - Willian (Chelsea)

Willian (left)
Willian has scored or assisted in four consecutive league games for the first time for Chelsea, registering four goals and two assists. Since the restart, only Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes has as many goal involvements in the Premier League (six each).

Chelsea's derby joy

  • Chelsea have now won 132 of their 256 London derbies in the Premier League; their 52% win rate is the highest for any side in such matches.
  • Crystal Palace have lost four consecutive matches for the first time since March 2018 - the fourth game in that run was also against Chelsea.
  • Lampard is the first English Chelsea boss to achieve a league double over Crystal Palace since Dave Sexton in 1971-72.
  • Chelsea striker Giroud has scored five goals in his past eight Premier League appearances; his previous five goals in the competition were spread across 49 games.
  • Chelsea midfielder Gilmour (62 successful passes) is the first teenager to lead all players for successful passes in each of his first two Premier League starts since Denilson for Arsenal in March 2007.
  • Palace winger Zaha's strike came from a distance of just over 30 yards; none of his previous 35 Premier League goals were from more than 19 yards out.
  • Benteke scored his first Premier League goal for Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park since April 2018 against Leicester, while this was his first such goal there excluding penalties since May 2017 against Hull.
  • The average age of Crystal Palace's starting XI was 30 years and 351 days, the oldest of any starting XI in the competition this season. Palace have named 17 of the 20 oldest starting line-ups in 2019-20.

What's next?

Chelsea are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to Sheffield United for a 17:30 BST kick-off. Palace play the following day in an away game at Aston Villa (14:15).

Line-ups

Crystal Palace

  • 31Guaita
  • 2Ward
  • 6Dann
  • 24CahillSubstituted forSakhoat 8'minutes
  • 3van Aanholt
  • 11Zaha
  • 8Kouyaté
  • 4MilivojevicBooked at 35minsSubstituted forMeyerat 89'minutes
  • 18McArthurSubstituted forMcCarthyat 80'minutes
  • 9J AyewSubstituted forTownsendat 80'minutes
  • 17Benteke

Substitutes

  • 7Meyer
  • 10Townsend
  • 12Sakho
  • 13Hennessey
  • 22McCarthy
  • 35Woods
  • 39Mitchell
  • 40Pierrick
  • 44Riedewald

Chelsea

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 24James
  • 4Christensen
  • 15Zouma
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 8BarkleySubstituted forLoftus-Cheekat 65'minutes
  • 47GilmourSubstituted forJorginhoat 80'minutes
  • 19Mount
  • 10Willian
  • 18GiroudSubstituted forAbrahamat 65'minutes
  • 22Pulisic

Substitutes

  • 2Rüdiger
  • 3Alonso
  • 5Jorginho
  • 9Abraham
  • 11Pedro
  • 12Loftus-Cheek
  • 13Caballero
  • 20Hudson-Odoi
  • 23Batshuayi
Referee:
David Coote

Match Stats

Home TeamCrystal PalaceAway TeamChelsea
Possession
Home42%
Away58%
Shots
Home13
Away14
Shots on Target
Home4
Away6
Corners
Home7
Away9
Fouls
Home11
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Crystal Palace 2, Chelsea 3.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 2, Chelsea 3.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Patrick van Aanholt with a cross following a corner.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Kurt Zouma.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  6. Post update

    Attempt saved. Scott Dann (Crystal Palace) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Wilfried Zaha with a cross.

  7. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Max Meyer.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Patrick van Aanholt.

  9. Post update

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

  10. Post update

    Foul by Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace).

  11. Post update

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

  12. Post update

    Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Kurt Zouma.

  13. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Willian (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Christian Pulisic with a cross.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Crystal Palace. Max Meyer replaces Luka Milivojevic.

  15. Post update

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

  16. Post update

    Attempt missed. Mason Mount (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

  17. Post update

    Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Vicente Guaita.

  18. Post update

    Attempt saved. Mason Mount (Chelsea) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Willian.

  19. Post update

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

  20. Post update

    Foul by Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace).

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As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Liverpool33292272254789
2Man City33213981344766
3Chelsea341861063461760
4Leicester34178964323259
5Man Utd331510856332355
6Wolves33131374536952
7Arsenal34121485042850
8Tottenham33139115244848
9Sheff Utd33121293433148
10Burnley33137133746-946
11Everton33128134048-844
12Newcastle331110123545-1043
13Southampton33134164255-1343
14Crystal Palace34119143043-1342
15Brighton33812133544-936
16West Ham3387184058-1831
17Watford34710173153-2231
18Aston Villa3376203662-2627
19Bournemouth3376203259-2727
20Norwich3456232663-3721
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