Chelsea 2-1 Crystal Palace: Player Ratings


Two consecutive defeats, and four in five Premier League games, had seemingly sunk Chelsea in the Premier League's tight top-four race.

Willian gave the Blues the lead in the 25th minute at Stamford Bridge, while when Martin Kelly helped the ball into his own net after the hour mark the Eagles were looking at a hard 60 minutes to come.

Chelsea lost the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park in October and Conte admits his side's results must improve if they are to stay in the hunt for Champions League qualification.

It was 2-0 seven minutes later with a goal that was as elegant in its creation as it was farcical in its final moments.

"The second half was much better - I thought that we were more aggressive and pushed up better from the back and played as we'd hoped to right from the first whistle".

In the 32nd minute, Chelsea doubled the lead through an own goal by Martin Kelly after Davide Zappacosta's shot from inside the box deflected off Hennessy and Kelly.

Did Olivier Giroud do enough at centre-forward to earn a start at Barcelona?

If he can find an end product to his penetrative runs and earn a little more luck than he got at Stamford Bridge in the first leg, Willian could help Chelsea spring a surprise.

"No, normally when you come up against a team who are not having the best of times, that can be very unsafe", he said.

They did get on the scoresheet through Patrick van Aanholt in the 90th minute - but by then the damage was done.

Chelsea almost took advantage of that let-off, but Tomkins threw himself in the way of yet another goal-bound shot, this time from Willian, and Hennessey saved from Hazard. "You're going down with the West Ham", they sung to Palace, who remain one point from safety.

Roy Hodgson sent on Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha for the second half in place of Benteke, and it nearly paid off instantly.

Antonio Conte could reinstate Alvaro Morata as the striker upfront for Chelsea as they host Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday. But Palace made and missed an even clearer opening when Christian Benteke moved into space at the far post as a corner came over from the left.

Zaha caught Zappacosta in possession and Alexander Sorloth was left with only Thibaut Courtois to beat.

Club captain Gary Cahill also returns to the starting line-up for the first time in the league since the 4-1 defeat to Watford, replacing Antonio Rudiger with a trip to Barcelona on the mind.

"It's all about timing for Palace".

Subs not used: Caballero, Ampadu, Emerson, Moses.



Other news