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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Selhurst Park

Gallagher braces kills off Palace resistance and Enzo adds insult to injury to notch up the third in 3-1 win at Selhurst Park

Selhurst Park Picture: Capital Football
Selhurst Park Picture: Capital Football

By Paul Lagan at Selhurst Park


Crystal Palace 1 v Chelsea 3


Conor Gallagher struck a late, late goal – his second of the match to kill off Crystal Palace after the home side had taken a first half lead.

To add insult to Palace injury, Enzo smashed home the third with almost the final kick of the game.

It was not a worthy score, but the west Londoners deserved to win – just.

The Blues have some excellent, technical players, but it's teamwork of a consistent high-quality that is still missing.

Palace were dogged, got in front, but simply could not hold on – they are 15th in the Premier League and looking over their shoulders go those below them.

Pressure will be mounting even more on Palace boss Roy Hodgson, and the Palace fans who remained to the final whistle – not that many, couldn't be bothered to boo.

There is still major disconnect between the fans and club hierarchy, but Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino can breathe a sigh of relief that the end of the game saw his side break the deadlock.

Both sides started sluggishly, with the visitors just about having the better of possession.

On six minutes, it was the home side who had the first effort on goal when Jordan Ayew had a weak turn and drive that almost dribbled into the hands of Djordje Petrovic.

Palace the took a firmer foothold in the match without showing any serious inspiration.

Fair to say, Chelsea was suffering from the same malaise.

Neither side could find much of a consistent rhythm as there were too many turnovers – one on 23 minutes, served Jean-Philippe Mateta but his short run into the Chelsea penalty area resulted in another weak shot which Petrovic dealt with comfortably.

Up at the other end on 29 minutes with an attack inspired by the work rate of Mateta, the ball fell invitingly to Jefferson Lerma from 20 yards out after Chelsea' Noni and Malo Gusto just about gave the ball away.

But there was work to be done and what a strike from Lerma as his angled right footer- arrowed in to the top left-hand corner of Petrovic's net. The goalkeeper had absolutely no chance with the screamer.

The closest the Blues came to equalising, was on 45 minutes when, for one once, some incisive one-touch play opened up the Palace rearguard.

Conor Gallagher found himself with the ball at a tight angle, but his low drive went straight across the goal and out for a goal kick.

Not a shot on target, but a few inches wide of one.

The Palace home fans – who recently jeered the players were clapping them as they headed down the tunnel for some oranges.

Pochettino had to do something at half-time and opted to bring on attacking midfielder Christopher Nkunku – of went Noni.

The second half was delayed as referee Michael Oliver's microphone appeared to be faulty.

To say the delay – almost 10 minutes was perhaps the highlight of the game so far for the visitors is probably a bit hard.

Oliver finally re-entered the pitch and got a massive round of applause – probably the first for a referee.

But it was the Blues who struck first through Conor Gallagher on 47 minutes to level the score.

An excellent Gusto cross into the Palace penalty area on the right, was met perfectly by Gallagher and he half-volleyed the ball past Dean Henderson from eight yards out.

Thiago Silva's night ended on 61 minutes when he slid into a challenge that resulted in a corner, but appeared to have tweaked a groin in the process – on can Levi Colwill.

The Blues took control of the game from this point, leaving Palace with just scraps to hang on to with the occasion al counter-attack, which inevitably broke down long before it got to Chelsea's penalty area.

A Ben Chilwell rasper from the apex of the Palace area on the left, only just evaded the goal and went for a goal kick on 66 minutes.

Nicolas Jackson saw a glancing header from a neat Gallagher cross go wide as the visitors started to turn the screw.

With 15 minutes on the clock, Petrovic made a top-class save to thwart the goal-bound thunderbolt from Matheus Franca after the midfielder was given free reign to just run through the middle of the Chelsea half unchallenged.

Chelsea brought on Raheem Sterling for Jackson while Palace's Will Hughes went off for Naouirou Ahamada – both on 78 minutes.

Alfie Gilchrist got some more minutes at the expense of Gusto while Odsonne Edouard came on for

Palace.

The home side thought they had a penalty when Mateta went down in the area – referee Oliver gave it as a foul on Colwill instead.

As the clock moved past 90 minutes – the Blues struck and Conor Gallagher was on the spot again, this time caressing the ball home on the edge of the penalty area after a lovely pass by Palmer set up the in-running midfielder.

Seeing Palace push forward for an equaliser allowed the Blues to wrap the game up when Enzo smashed home from close range.


Teams: Palace: Henderson, Mitchell, Lerma, Ayew, Franca, Munoz, Mateta Andersen, Hughes, Wharton, Richards

Subs: Johnstone, Ward, Tomkins, Schlupp, Clyne, Edouard, Ahamada, Riedewald, Ozoh


Chelsea: Petrovic, Disasi, Silva, Enzo, Noni, Jackson, Palmer, Chilwell, Gallagher, Caicedo, Gusto

Subs: Bergstrom, Sterling, Mudryk, Chalobah, Chukwuemeka, Nkunku, Colwill, Casadei, Gilchrist

Referee: Michael Oliver


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