Despite a late onslaught from Crystal Palace, Chelsea held on to win maximum points narrow the gap between them and London rivals Tottenham Hotspur to two points.
The first chance was handed to Olivier Giroud which was made by N’Golo Kante with a short cross from just outside the box, but the forward failed to finish his effort within the opening eight minutes.
Willian also saw his opportunity at goal foiled (it was a good effort, but he would’ve struck it better had he not been foiled by Jeffrey Schlupp).
Crystal Palace were close to heading in front when a sublime effort from Andros Townsend on the line of the box rippled the roof of the net.
Willian continued to threaten Wayne Hennessey with two more efforts, though his second effort was rather wayward. He continued to persevere, and with that, broke the deadlock with a textbook finish to put his side in the lead.
Chelsea doubled their lead when an effort from Davide Zappacosta from close range comically deflected in off Martin Kelly with the ball initially coming off Hennessey. That was an unfortunate goal for the visitors to concede, especially as they’re fighting against the drop.
Despite a two-goal lead, Chelsea didn’t let up, as they continued to push for a third with chances from Eden Hazard and Giroud with the latter seeing his effort from close range blocked on the line by James Tomkins who prevented his side from going 3-0 down!
The Eagles started brightly, and could’ve reduced the deficit when an effort from Alexander Sorloth hit the post from close range! Chelsea were lucky there!
At the other end, Tomkins blocked an effort from Willian to keep the score down at 2-0. This was a potential Man of the Match performance from the defender!
Roy Hodgson’s side were determined not to concede a third and thwarted the Premier League holders yet again with Hennessy doing well to foil Hazard who darted into the box.
Despite the Chelsea onslaught, the relegation-threatened side had their opportunity when Patrick van Aanholt attempted a strike from range but was caught with a textbook catch by Thibaut Courtois.
Following that, Antonio Conte’s side threatened time and time again with efforts from Willian and Giroud with the latter unlucky not to score following a great cross from the Brazilian. Just before that, Aaron Wan-Bissaka made an important block from Marcos Alonso.
With 66 minutes gone, Giroud somehow failed to score when his effort struck the post from not far out. He ought to have scored from there! Unfortunate though.
This match was turning into an unforgettable afternoon – for all the wrong reasons for Giroud after a cross from Zappacosta (which was meant for him) was obstructed by Tomkins – a player that ultimately became a nuisance to Chelsea.
Towards the end of regulation time, Crystal Palace thought they had pulled one back through Sorloth who was waiting at the near post but was chalked off for a foul in the build-up.
With less than a minute before added time, van Aanholt slotted past Courtois to reduce the deficit against his former employers. That was a much-deserved goal with his last effort in mind.
Chelsea held on for the win to increase their top four chances. As for Crystal Palace, they were unlucky to not get more than just a goal out of this.
Thoughts on the game
Despite Chelsea dominating throughout the game, Crystal Palace displayed why they’re not about to throw in the towel on survival just yet. Chances from van Aanholt and a Man of the Match performance from James Tomkins (I’m calling it now) proved why they’re a good bet to stay up in this division. Had it not been for him, Chelsea could’ve won by more!
Giroud was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet, but I feel he will score soon.
Before facing Leicester City away in the FA Cup next weekend, Barcelona stand in the way of a potential quarter-final place in the Champions League on Wednesday (kick-off 7:45pm).
Crystal Palace aren’t in cup action, so they travel northwards to face Huddersfield in their quest to survive the drop