Alonso, Pulisic and Chalobah strikes give Blues season opening victory over lacklustre Eagles
By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 3 Crystal Palace 0
‘Champions of Europe, you’ll never say that,” echoed around Stamford Bridge as the Champions of Europe celebrated the most emphatic opening day league win possible - 3-0 - it could have been more.
South Londoners Crystal Palace were the opposition, but opposition was hardly an apt description as they were anaemic in attack and shaky in defence.
Whatever new boss Patrick Vieira has in mind for the development of the Eagles, there was very little evidence in this 90 minutes.
If however it was to copy the effort and style of previous manager Roy Hodgson’s sides - then he succeeded.
It was however a feisty opening start, with neither side playing the shrinking violet role.
if the Eagles were intent to intimidate Chelsea, it failed, an inevitably, they sat back, absorbed the pressure and hoped.
The first effort, if that’s what it could be called came on seven minutes when Cesar Azpilicueta tried his luck from 20 yards out.
The Palace fans in the Shed end gleefully accepted the ball as it arrowed towards row Z.
Christian Pulisic at least got his glancing header on target two minutes later from a Marco Alonso left wing cross, but Vicente Guaita was on hand to snaffle the ball into his midriff.
A deflected Mateo Kovacic shot went for a corner instead of the back of the net, emphasising the superiority of the European champions, but the Eagles stood firm.
This was quickly followed by a dipping Mason Mount free-kick which Guaita did well to parry away for a corner.
Inevitably, the Blues struck. But it wasn’t a silky, seven-man move that cut the South Londoners’ apart - instead it was a sweetly struck, left footed free-kick from an angle just outside the penalty area that left Guaita rooted to his spot, and the ball zipped over the static wall and plonked itself in the back of the net on 27 minutes.
Five minutes before the break and the Blues nabbed their second. This time it was a smart one-two on the right which saw Mount cut across from the byline, Guaita could only tip the ball into the path of in-running Pulisic and the American toe-poked the ball home - in off the crossbar.
Chelsea fans from a certain angle thought Timo Werner had tucked home a near side-footer two minutes later, but all the German hit was the side-netting.
Alonso was almost on the scoresheet seconds after the restart - a clipped deep ball by Jorginho fed the wing-back who pile-drove a fierce left footed volley. This time Guaita was alert to the effort and parried it away.
Palace finally had a effort on the Chelsea goal - Wilfried Zaha forcing his way through the Blues rearguard on 51 minutes, but his shot was blocked by Toni Rudiger and cleared for a corner.
But it was back to business soon after and it was Trevoh Chalobah who provided the spark that set the fans wild.
Picking up the ball just inside the Palace half on 58 minutes, the defender raced forwards unchallenged.
Shouts from the stands of ‘shoot’ saw the 22-year-old do just that.
A right-footed daisy-cutter could only be reached by Guaita’s finger-tips, but such was the power of the drive, that the ball continued its unerring way just inside the right post.
Chalobah could not quite believe what happened and sunk to his knees in delight to be mobbed by his team-mates.
With the points secure, head coach Thomas Tuchel replaced his skipper Azpilicueta with Reece James on 67 minutes.
Kai Havertz had a 10 minute run out at the expense of Pulisic.
Goal hero Alonso give way to Emerson with four minutes on the clock.
The whistle came soon after to give Tuchel three vital points.
Teams: Chelsea, Mendy, Rudiger, Alonso, Christensen, Jorginho, Kovacic, Pulisic, Werner, Chalobah, Mount, Azpilicueta
Subs: Kepa, Silva, Abraham, Zouma, Hudson-Odoi, Chilwell, James, Havertz, Emerson.
Palace: Guaita, Ward, Mitchell, Guehi, Kouyate, Ayew, Zaha, Mateta, Schlupp, McArthur, Riedewald
Subs: Butland, Andersen, Clyne, Benteke, Kelly, Banks, Hannah, Street, Rak-Sakai
Referee: Jonathan Moss