Chelsea slipped to their first defeat since January as Crystal Palace secured a memorable 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues raced into an early lead on five minutes as Cesc Fabregas applied the finish from Eden Hazard’s cross, but Palace turned the game on its head with two goals in two minutes - Wilfried Zaha equalising with a stunning solo goal before setting up Christian Benteke for the Belgian’s 10th goal of the season.
Chelsea had countless opportunities to level the game but the visitors, marshalled by the imperious Mamadou Sakho, held on to claim a famous victory which will go some way to sealing their place in the top flight next term.
Diego Costa missed a hatful of opportunities while Antonio Conte will also look back on Craig Pawson’s decision not to give his side a penalty as Andros Townsend’s appeared to handle the ball to block Pedro’s goal-bound shot in the first-half.
Palace will care little as they claimed their fourth consecutive victory to move four points clear of the drop zone while Tottenham’s 2-0 victory over Burnley means Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table is now reduced to seven points.
Sam Allardyce’s rejuvenated Palace leaves Chelsea sweating. Hiring the disgraced former England manager didn’t seem such a great idea in February as Palace continued to struggle at the bottom end of the table. However, four consecutive wins gives his side some much needed breathing space from their relegation rivals and this latest victory also throws the title race wide open.
Chelsea have both Manchester sides to play in the next couple of weeks while second-placed Spurs have a much easier schedule with Swansea, Watford and Bournemouth next in line. With such a demanding fixture list ahead, just what kind of psychological blow will this defeat have on the Blues?
MAN OF THE MATCH
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace): The Ivory Coast international came into the game full of confidence having scored a stunning goal for his country in mid-week and the 24-year-old was at it again here as he levelled the scores in style before providing a lovely assist for Benteke 90 seconds later.
Chelsea: Courtois 6; Azpilicueta 6, David Luiz 6, Cahill 6; Pedro 7, Kante 6, Matic 6, Alonso 6; Fabregas 7, Diego Costa 6, Hazard 8. Subs: Loftus-Cheek N/A, Willian 6, Batshuayi 6.
Crystal Palace: Hennessy 8, Ward 6, Tomkins 6, Sakho 8, Schlupp 6, Milivojevic 6, Cabaye 6, Puncheon 6, Zaha 8, Townsend 6, Benteke 7. Subs: Dann 6, Delaney 6, Kelly 6.
5’ - GOAL! Chelsea 1-0 Palace. The returning Hazard is at the heart of the Blues’ breakthrough goal as the Belgian goes easily past Ward in a wide area and finds Fabregas who taps in at the near post.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: Heroic Crystal Palace stun Chelsea