Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea: Blues ease to Guus Hiddink's first win
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 04/01/16 8:41am
Chelsea cruised to their first win of Guus Hiddink's second spell in interim charge with a 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday afternoon.
Oscar opened the scoring on 29 minutes, sliding home after Diego Costa broke clear of the Palace defence and teed him up from six yards.
Wilfried Zaha scuffed Palace's best opportunity into the arms of Thibaut Courtois on the hour mark, and Chelsea made the home side pay with two goals in six minutes shortly after.
Willian fired a powerful strike into Wayne Hennessey's top corner to make it 2-0 after neat build-up involving Oscar and Cesc Fabregas, before Costa capitalised on strong running from the impressive Willian to tap home at the far post.
The only worry for Hiddink will be a groin injury picked up by Eden Hazard, who limped off on 16 minutes, but the win, Chelsea's second away from home in the Premier League this season, moves the Blues up to 14th place.
Palace, who were without the injured Yannick Bolasie and suspended Yohan Cabaye, remain seventh after their heaviest league defeat under Alan Pardew.
Hiddink made two changes from the goalless draw at Old Trafford, bringing back Fabregas and Costa with Nemanja Matic and Pedro dropping to the bench, but the latter was soon required as the Chelsea boss was forced into an early substitution.
Hazard, who returned from a hip injury against Watford on Boxing Day, pulled up with a groin problem after a run and shot down the left flank, and the winger will have an MRI scan on Monday.
Palace had started the brighter as Kurt Zouma denied an onrushing Fraizer Campbell before Zaha flashed a shot wide of Courtois' post after a poor touch from Hazard.
Chelsea sprang into life just after the change as the lively Oscar picked out Pedro on the left, and the Spain international cut inside only for Joel Ward to block his goal-bound effort.
Campbell squandered Palace's clearest chance of the first half after 24 minutes, slicing his half-volley over the bar when unmarked at the back post, and Chelsea punished the miss, taking the lead through Oscar just before the half-hour mark.
Damien Delaney failed to cut out Fabregas' through ball for Costa, and the Chelsea striker gathered before cutting back for Oscar for a simple tap-in from six yards.
The Blues had the chance to double their lead 10 minutes before the break as Cesar Azpilicueta took a cross-field pass from Oscar on his chest, but Hennessey stood tall to beat clear the Spaniard's powerful strike.
Having ended the first half on top, Chelsea remained on the front foot to start the second, and should have gone two ahead through Zouma eight minutes after the restart. The defender found himself free at the far post and met Willian's free-kick with power, but headed over the bar from close range.
In the end it did not matter, though, as Chelsea put the game beyond the Eagles with two quick-fire goals. Willian struck first, doubling the lead with a first-time blast that gave Hennessey no chance.
That came shortly after Zaha had wasted a good opportunity to level the score, but the Palace winger mistimed his shot after Campbell put him through.
That proved costly as Costa added the third in the 66th minute following more excellent work from Willian. The Chelsea midfielder turned James McArthur inside out, before sliding a low shot across the face of goal that Hennessey could only palm into the path of the Chelsea striker.
Palace struggled all afternoon to live with a Chelsea attack that looked back to its best, and Scott Dann was booked for a crude challenge on Costa with 10 minutes to play.
Willian fed Costa at the back post as the Blues pushed for a fourth late on, but the Spain forward blazed a difficult left-foot volley into the stands.
The win, Chelsea's first on the road since late August, continues their recent upturn in form. They face Scunthorpe next in the FA Cup before resuming league action against West Brom at Stamford Bridge.
As for Palace, the defeat marks their third successive game without a goal, and Pardew will be looking for improvement against Southampton in the FA Cup before they face bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa at Villa Park on January 12.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey (5), Ward (6), Dann (5), Delaney (6), Souare (5), Lee (5), Jedinak (5), McArthur (6), Puncheon (6), Zaha (6), Campbell (6)
Subs used: Chamakh (6), Ledley (6), Williams (6)
Chelsea: Courtois (7), Ivanovic (6), Zouma (7), Terry (7), Azpilicueta (7), Mikel (7), Fabregas (7), Willian (8), Oscar (8), Hazard (6), Costa (8)
Subs used: Matic (6), Pedro (7)
Man of the match: Diego Costa