Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace: Visitors come from behind to shock Blues
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 02/04/17 7:25am
Chelsea's lead at the top of the Premier League was cut to seven points as Crystal Palace came from behind to earn a stunning 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
The hosts took the lead in fine style in the fifth minute. Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas combined to create an easy chance for Fabregas to convert, as they looked on course for a 14th home win in a row.
However, two goals in 91 seconds sensationally turned the match on its head as Wilfried Zaha brilliantly equalised in the ninth minute, before Christian Benteke cheekily chipped the ball over Thibaut Courtois to give Palace the lead.
The league leaders threw everything at Palace in search of an equaliser, but the Eagles were not to be denied a fourth win in a row, while Tottenham will have been given hope in their quest for a first Premier League crown by the Blues' slip-up.
Antonio Conte brought Eden Hazard back into the starting XI, and the Belgium international didn't look like he was feeling any effects of the calf injury he'd been carrying as he created a chance Fabregas couldn't miss.
Fabregas started the move himself, picking out Hazard superbly on the left. Joel Ward afforded Hazard far too much space, which he exploited nipping to the byline before pulling it back for Fabregas to steer home from close range.
Then, four minutes later, Zaha equalised out of nowhere. The ball into him was difficult to control, but he pulled it down brilliantly, drove into space before firing into the bottom corner, through the legs of two Chelsea defenders.
Palace were handed a lifeline by referee Craig Pawson in the 15th minute as Andros Townsend appeared to handle on the line. Nothing was given.
Wayne Hennessey was then forced into a fine stop to deny Costa after more great work from Hazard to pick out the Spain international, he swivelled and fired at goal, but Hennessey stuck out a leg to block.
After the break, Palace lost two defenders through injury, but they kept their shape and put their bodies on the line time and again.
Just after the hour mark Palace could have put further daylight between them and the Blues, but Courtois pulled off a fantastic stop to deny Zaha with his feet.
14 minutes from time came the chance that Chelsea's pressure merited, but Costa somehow missed the target with a header from close range, with the goal at his mercy.
For all their possession and chances, Hennessey was in fact only forced to make meaningful saves on a handful of occasions.
The Palace goal did live a charmed life at times, as Willian and Hazard drilled the ball across the face of goal, evading everyone and running out of play.
Zaha wasted another chance to put the game to bed late on, blazing over after great work from Jason Puncheon to pick him out, but the Eagles held on for a vital three points, with the 2-1 scoreline a replica of this fixture last season.
Chelsea: Courtois (7), Azpilicueta (6), Luiz (6), Cahill (6), Pedro (6), Matic (5), Kante (6), Fabregas (7), Alonso (5), Hazard (7), Costa (5).
Subs: Willian (7), Batshuayi (6)
Crystal Palace: Hennessey (8), Ward (7), Tomkins (7), Sakho (9), Schlupp (6), Cabaye (6), Milivojevic (7), Zaha (8), Puncheon (8), Townsend (7), Benteke (8).
Subs: Dann (6), Delaney (7), Kelly (6).
Man of the match: Mamadou Sakho