Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea: Wilfried Zaha's return inspires Palace
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 15/10/17 7:42am
Wilfried Zaha's first-half strike earned Roy Hodgson his first victory as Crystal Palace boss as his side deservedly beat Chelsea 2-1 on Saturday.
Making his first start since suffering a knee injury against Huddersfield on the opening day of the season, Zaha's smart finish on the stroke of half-time proved to be the winner at Selhurst Park.
Cesar Azpilicueta's own goal (11) ended Palace's 731-minute wait for a first league goal of the campaign but Tiemoue Bakaoyko swiftly equalised with a header (18) before Zaha's decisive intervention (45).
The victory earns Palace their first points of the season, ending a seven-match losing run, while Chelsea have now lost back-to-back league matches and find themselves nine points off league leaders Manchester City.
The home side started well and did not have to wait long to break their goal drought as Azpilicueta turned into his own net from Yohan Cabaye's touch.
Crystal Palace: Speroni (7), Ward (7), Dann (7), Sakho (7), Schlupp (6), van Aanholt (7), Milivojevic (7), Cabaye (7), McArthur (7), Townsend (8), Zaha (9)
Subs: Fosu-Mensah (N/A), Puncheon (6), Riedewald (N/A)
Chelsea: Courtois (6), Alonso (5), Cahill (5), Luiz (5), Azpilicueta (4), Moses (5), Fabregas (6), Willian (5), Bakayoko (6), Hazard (5), Batshuayi (4)
Subs: Musonda (5), Pedro (6), Zappacosta (6)
Man of the match: Wilfried Zaha
Poor Palace marking at a corner allowed Bakayoko to level but Hodgson's side ended the half in front thanks to the excellent Zaha, who skipped past Azpilicueta and kept his composure to beat Thibaut Courtois.
A difficult afternoon for Chelsea was compounded by an early exit for Victor Moses, who appeared to suffer a hamstring injury midway through the first half.
The expected second-half surge from the visitors failed to properly materialise although Cesc Fabregas did clip the crossbar with a fine long-range effort.
Both teams made four changes from their defeats before the international break, with Wilfried Zaha making his return from a knee injury for Palace. Injuries to N'Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata meant opportunities for Willian and Michy Batshuayi for the visitors.
Antonio Conte introduced Pedro and Charly Musonda, who criticised Chelsea earlier in this week for a perceived lack of first-team opportunities, but the away side could not break down a stubborn Palace defence.
Musonda sliced over and Fabregas dragged an effort wide after an ill-advised back-heel by Mamadou Sakho but the best chance of the second period fell to Palace.
Patrick van Aanholt was left head in hands after firing wide from close range but his late miss did not cost the Eagles as they held on for a precious victory.
- Crystal Palace scored their first goal in 731 minutes of Premier League action.
- Antonio Conte has lost three of his first eight league games in a campaign for the first time since 2009-10 when taking over at Atalanta (in September 2009) in Serie A (also three losses).
- Since joining Chelsea in August 2014, Cesc Fabregas has recorded 38 assists; more than any other Premier League player.
Charlie Nicholas: "I don't know where this has come from for Crystal Palace. Roy has obviously been working really hard to get Zaha fit and Speroni is back in contention.
"They had one setback when they let in a goal for 1-1 but other than that they were bang at it. Zaha was outstanding and Andros Townsend… wow.
"He found the big performance he doesn't find often enough. He was absolutely fantastic."
Roy Hodgson: "It was really enjoyable. I have just told the players they really deserve to drink in that victory, we were playing the champions of England, a team with fantastic quality.
"I thought we came off the field deserving our victory, we created lots of chances and I thought our defending was good from the first minute."
Antonio Conte: "We started very badly and it was very difficult. Also we need to understand the situation and to continue to work to find the right solution despite the injuries. They are big losses for us but we have to accept the situation and try to do our best.
"This [injury to Victor Moses] is another bad situation. We have to check tomorrow with the medical staff. But for sure it is another loss, a big loss for us. You know very well the importance of this player to our team."
Man of the match - Wilfried Zaha
Palace's dismal start to the season was expected to continue against the defending champions but Zaha's return galvanised his team-mates.
The Ivory Coast international was superb and tormented Chelsea's defence all afternoon, alongside the impressive Andros Townsend.
Zaha's first league goal of the season was a fair reward for a stand-out display full of technical quality and high on work rate.
Hodgson's Palace will look to build on Saturday's result when they travel to Newcastle next weekend.
Meanwhile, Chelsea return to Stamford Bridge and will need to bounce back quickly as they host Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday before Watford visit west London on Saturday live on Sky Sports Premier League.