Chelsea showed their resilience and quality as they came from behind to defeat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Selhurst Park on Monday night. The Blues, who were knocked out of the FA Cup by Aston Villa last week, trailed at half-time to a stunning strike from Jefferson Lerma. However, they turned the game around in the second half with two goals from Conor Gallagher, who spent last season on loan at Palace, and a late third from Enzo Fernandez.
Chelsea dominated the possession and chances in the first half, but they could not find a way past Dean Henderson, who was making his debut for Palace after joining on loan from Manchester United. The hosts defended well and looked to hit Chelsea on the break, and they took the lead in the 30th minute when Lerma picked up the ball on the edge of the area and unleashed a powerful shot that flew into the top corner.
Gallagher haunts his former club
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino made two changes at the break, bringing on Malo Gusto and Enzo Fernandez for Reece James and Hakim Ziyech. The substitutions paid off as Chelsea equalised within two minutes of the restart. Gusto, who joined Chelsea from Lyon in January, delivered a pinpoint cross from the right and Gallagher met it with a volley that beat Henderson at his near post.
Gallagher, who scored twice in 30 appearances for Palace last term, celebrated his goal with respect but did not hold back his joy when he scored again in stoppage time. The 22-year-old midfielder, who has been one of Chelsea’s best performers this season, latched onto a pass from Harvey Palmer and slotted the ball past Henderson to make it 2-1. Fernandez then added some gloss to the scoreline with a neat finish from another Palmer assist in the final seconds.
Palace remain in trouble
The defeat was a blow for Palace, who remain in 15th place, just four points above the relegation zone. The Eagles have won only one of their last eight league games and have conceded 13 goals in their last four matches. Manager Roy Hodgson, who is out of contract at the end of the season, is under increasing pressure from the fans and the board.
Palace did not lack effort or spirit, but they were outclassed by a superior Chelsea side. The hosts had some chances to score, most notably when Matheus Franca hit the post in the first half and when Odsonne Edouard forced a save from Edouard Mendy in the second half. However, they could not cope with Chelsea’s pace and movement, and they were punished for their defensive errors.
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