Willian opened the scoring in a more passionate display from Chelsea that earned a 2-1 home win against Crystal Palace
Chelsea psyche to Barcelona with three points in their back pocket at the end of a turbulent week. But the way in which they let their performance float in the final half hour here was a reminder of the Blues’ more wayward instants in an inconsistent season.
For Palace, “its been” the opposite. After the home side scored twice in the first half, with both aims going in via Palace’s Martin Kelly, the visitors ricochetted back. The introduction of the returning Wilfried Zaha at the interval committed the visitors renewed heart and after Patrick van Aanholt scored in the 89 th minute the nerves of the Stamford Bridge crowd were jangled unduly. Antonio Conte may have been the cheerier of the two directors afterwards, but the manner of this topsy-turvy encounter left you unsure that Roy Hodgson wouldn’t take greater nerve from it.
” I think this win was very important ,” Conte said.” We played really well, particularly in the first half; we created many chances. It was a pity that at the end we conceded the goal and the last three minutes were a little bit nervous. After you dominate a game you hope to play it out in a more relaxed way .”
For his part, Hodgson rued Palace’s inconsistent performance.” It’s a shame we didn’t play the whole match as we did the second half ,” he said.” There was far too big a difference between the teams in the first half, both defensively and offensively, and we paid the price. A second half repeat could have ended very badly and the temptation to bring out a musician of[ Zaha’s] quality was too strong .”
Both coach-and-fours read the first half right. Chelsea were dominant and assertive. They likewise had a scheme that was working. With Olivier Giroud playing as an actual striker, Eden Hazard was given licence to return to the areas he enjoys to roam in best. Alongside him Willian continued his imperious shape of late, registering his fifth objective in as many games in the 25 th minute where reference is drifted in from the left wing to open the scoring with a low shoot that spun off Kelly’s calf and in off the near post.
Kelly doubled Chelsea’s advantage seven minutes later in strange way. A whip-smart part of Chelsea play ended with Davide Zappacosta firing a shot past Wayne Hennessey. Kelly was in position to block the shoot, but his clearance simply hit the head of his flailing keeper. The ball bounced backwards, came off Kelly’s own knee and dribbled into the net.
Giroud missed two more chances to open his Chelsea account in the second half. He was ” unlucky” according to his administrator. Willian, meanwhile,” is playing in a fantastic style but, I want to underline , not only with the ball “. The Brazilian has been in and out of Conte’s team this season despite his attacking consistency. The Italian was letting everyone know the reason for it.
Hodgson induced his own cryptic remark, claiming Palace’s second half recuperation was down to everyone putting their own bodies on the line.” We didn’t have 11 doing that in the first half ,” he said. The surmise would be that Christian Benteke was among those who had frustrated, as it was he who was hoicked off at half-time for Zaha, who attained his first appearance after missing a month with a ligament stres. Either way the returning talisman not only gave the visitors a cutting edge but a sense of belief.
The Norwegian striker Alexander Sorloth took a Zaha pass and thrashed the post with it just after the restart. He then had the ball in the net with five minutes left, but the referee Anthony Taylor ruled it out for a contaminate by Jairo Riedewald. Hodgson said ” the ones who have learnt it on video” told him it should have been allowed.
Three minutes later and Palace had their purpose as Zaha played a delightful blind pass out wide-ranging to Van Aanholt, who fired home with confidence.
Palace have now lost to Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea in consecutive matches, but each has been close and Hodgson knows the lesson to draw from those defeats.” In the last eight plays we have to reproduction the form of five of these last six halves ,” he said.” We have to make certain we leave no stone unturned in the fight be left in the division .”