With two goals from Conor Gallagher and a late third from Enzo Fernandez, Chelsea defeated Crystal Palace 3-1.
Both teams entered the game bearing a great deal of expectation. Could Chelsea, fresh from their impressive midweek performance against Aston Villa, regain consistency? Without Eberechi Eze, Marc Guehi, and Michael Olise—three of their top players—how would struggling Crystal Palace fare?
The first half saw the Eagles perform far better. They had a six-to-one advantage in shots, and they made it matter when Lerma put in a spectacular effort on the half-hour mark to put Crystal Palace ahead.
However, Chelsea turned things around after the break, when Gallagher, a former Crystal Palace loanee, scored another incredible goal just 90 seconds into the second half to tie the score.
It appeared as though the match would end in a draw, but two goals in the dying minutes from Gallagher (90+1) and Fernandez (90+4) gave Chelsea the victory.
With 34 points, Chelsea moves up to the top 10 ahead of Wolves. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace is still five points clear of the relegation zone.
Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino said after the game: “We were flat in the first 45 minutes, very disappointing. We need to react to the game. We need to avoid that and start a game like this so flat. Maybe there was a foul when we conceded.
“We started the second half really well and we scored. It was a tough game but I’m so pleased.
“We just want to build our confidence and realise we need to be more consistent. We used two strikers in between the centre-back and the full-back. We put Gusto and Chilwell higher and moved the ball quicker with Enzo in a number 10 role. It helped us score.”
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson speaking after the game: “From the way the fans were it seems they thought the same. Their support was really good.
“We shot ourselves in the foot to a certain extent. Our lead lasted one minute into the second half, it’s something we’ve talked about a lot and didn’t want to happen again. I think we were value for the 1-1. The third goal for them was the match-winner.
“I can only hope that the fans are realistic. We have injury problems and we have some young players making debuts and finding their way in the game. I would like to think they take all those things into consideration.
“I would like to think with the players coming back, and seeing what they saw tonight from the new players, they might be feeling fairly positive about our chances going forward because there are still 14 matches left in the season. You can’t control that, I don’t know what people are thinking and what their attitudes are going to be.
“The team gave their very best and did give the fair-minded supporter a chance to believe in this team and club as we go forward.”
When asked if his team could survive relegation, Hodgson added: “I am confident we can do that. At the moment we are playing without three or four of our most experienced and quality players and they won’t be out until the end of the season.
“I am not concerned we are going to be relegated and the way the players played tonight, if you add the quality to that, I don’t think we need to be too concerned about relegation. We are not complacent about it but I believe in the team and players and believe they will pull us through.”
Crystal Palace travel to Everton next on Monday while Chelsea travel to the Etihad for a huge game against Man City on Saturday.
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