Chelsea had their feet tightly pressed on the gas as they strengthened their position in the Premier League’s top four with a 3-2 victory over Crystal Palace.
The entertaining encounter at Selhurst Park was an element of fortune about the game’s opening goal. Crystal Palace defender Gary Cahill pulled up a match-ending injury to allow Willian charge into the box unimpeded and set up Olivier Giroud to finish in the 6th minute.
Moreover, the rest of the match was a testament to the kind of high-octane, competitive, see-saw football that drew viewers to the English top-flight even with empty grounds.
Doubly, Chelsea looked to have put the game beyond the home side through Christian Pulisic’s rising shot to make it 2-0 in the first half. Thereon followed Tammy Abraham’s neat finish with 19 minutes to go to place Chelsea at 3-1.
But this reckoned without the input of Zaha’s stunning long-range goal strike and a rare goal from Christian Benteke.
Zaha’s goal was a superb strike, fiercely fired into the net through the crossbar from an unexpected distance. Benteke’s goal on the other hand was more routine, tapped in from point-blank range following a neat move. It was surprising that the goal marked Benteke’s first goal at Selhurst Park since April 2018.
Crystal Palace came close to snatching a point when Scott Dann’s back-post header struck the inside of the post before the Blues hacked the ball clear.
Chelsea’s win means they move above Leicester City into third place in the table. Five points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United.
A return of 12 points from a possible 15 has ensured they remain firmly in the mix for a place in next season’s Champions League.
How about Crystal Palace?
Probably, this is the best match Crystal Palace has played in their run of four straight losses and the most threatening the lads have looked considering a large part of that goes down to Wilfred Zaha.
The 2019/20 season has been frustrating for Zaha. The 27-year-old looked as if he might leave Palace last summer but ultimately stayed. He has therefore struggled to recapture the form that had other clubs circling.
Despite his failure to regularly hit the heights, he is capable of, the forward remains a potent attacking weapon which he demonstrated with 10 minutes to go before the half-time break.
Much renowned for his driving runs, speed and trickery, his goal was more of a tribute to Tony Yeboah school of finishing. This is Zaha’s fourth goal of the season and his first since mid-December.