Crystal Palace 0 Chelsea 1

By Paul Lagan
Last updated : 18 December 2016

Diego Costa's pinpoint header, two minutes from end of the first half was enough to secure all three points and keep put the west Londoners clear at the top of the Premier League with 11 successive league wins under their belt, writes Paul Lagan.

A simple loft of a pass from Cesar Azpilicueta was met full on the head of the Brazil-born Spain striker, who got above Scott Dann and Damien Delaney to guide the ball past a prone Wayne Hennessey, who was rooted to the spot as the ball was perfectly angled away from him.
Costa was however booked, his fifth of the season and as such will miss the next match - a Boxing Day encounter with Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge.
There was not much difference between the sides in terms of effort, but class was in evidence.

The home side settled the quicker of the two with Joe Ledley pulling the strings for the Eagles.
Chelsea appeared content to sit back and break on the counter-attack.
Gradually the league leaders got to grips within the cold, misty and early afternoon conditions, stringing together multiple passes - none leading to a strike on Wayne Hennessy's goal however.
Joel Ward was unlucky to get a yellow card for fouling Eden Hazard, when five minutes earlier N'Golo Kante escaped punishment from referee Jon Moss for an even worse foul. 
Palace should have gone ahead on 20 minutes when they cut through the visitors defence but James McArthur's side-footed across Thibaut Courtois's goal and far post.
Diego Costa entered Moss's book on 23 minutes and now misses the Boxing day clash with a one-match suspension at the Bridge against Bournemouth, having accumulated five yellow cards before the end of the calendar year.
A counter from the Blues almost reaped dividends on 36 minutes but a Hazard-inspired pass to Marcos Alonso, saw the Spain defender run out of steam before he could deliver the final pass to in-running, and free Willian.
McArthur had a glancing header from just inside the Chelsea area. But like his earlier effort went wide of Courtois's goal.
Jason Puncheon saw his left-footed free kick from 20-yards sail high and wide of the opposition's goal.But it was Diego Costa who broke the deadlock two minutes from the break when a deep Cesar Azpilicueta cross was met full on the forehead by Costa, who out-jumped Damien Delaney and Scott Dann, to plant the ball past a prone Hennessy.
There were no changes at half-time from either side.
A forceful long-range drive by Yolanda Cabaye, forced Courtois into a smart dive to his right as the homie side went in search of a quick equaliser.
A series of corner pushed the Blues back to the point where Costa was hacking the ball clear from just outside his own penalty area.
Antonio Conte replace out of sorts Willian with Cesc Fabregas on 64 minutes.
A fine breaks by the Blues almost saw Fabregas double the lease on 70 minutes but his left-footed daisy-cutter, on the edge of the Palace penalty area was not powerful enough to trouble Hennessey.
The Palace stopper was called upon three minutes later to thwart Kante, diving to his right to parry the midfielder's low drive. And again a minute later to stop Alonso's zipper from crashing i to the top left hand corner of the net.
Palace boos Alan pardew made his first change on 77 minutes, taking off Puncheon and replacing him with ex-Spurs winger Andros Townsend.
This was quickly followed by Conte taking off ex-Eagles Victor Moses, to great applause from the home crowd and on came Branislav Ivanovic. Pardew then took off Cabaye and on came Frazier Campbell.
Chelsea were desperately unlucky not to be 2-0 up when Alonso's near perfect left-footed curler of a free-kick flew over the Palace wall, crashed onto the crossbar but did not cross the line when it hit the ground and was swiftly cleared.
The final substitution saw Costa come off for Nathaniel Chalobah with two minutes left on the clock.
The Blues easily saw the remaining seconds to take the three points back to the west side of London.

 

 

Teams : Chelsea, Courtois, Alonso, Kante, Hazard, Moses, Costa, Matic, Willian, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Luiz,
Subs: Begovic, Ivanovic, Fabregas, Pedro, Zouma, Batshuayi, Chalobah.

Palaces: Hennessy, Ward, Dann, Cabaye, Zara, Ledlery, Benteker, McArthur, Delaney, Kelly, Puncheon
Subs: Speroni, Campbell, Townsend, Kee, Fryers, Mutch, Husin

Referee: Jon Moss


Diego Costa struck two minutes from the break to put the Blues 1-0 up against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in this early afternoon Kick-off.
A regulation deep cross by Cesar Azpilicueta was met full on the head by Costa who out-jumped Damien Delaney and Scott Dann and steered the ball past a prone Wayne Hennessy from six yards out.
The Blues, top of the league looked for the most part in the fist half, second best, but the class of Costa, who was booked and will now miss the Boxing Day clash with Bournemouth, was the difference.

 

 

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