Crystal Palace 1 Chelsea 2

Chelsea stay five points clear at the top of the league after they dispatched plucky Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park this afternnon.

Goals from Oscar and Cesc Fabregas, either side of half-time were enough to secure all three points, Frazier Campbell tucked home a later goal for the home side, but it was too little, too,late.

Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta and Eagles's Damien Delaney were sent off, Azpilicueta's was a straight red card, Delaney the result of two poor, misguided challenges.

In truth Chelsea wee well worth their three points. But Palace can take some comfort that they won't be coming up too many side's as accomplished as Chelsea this season.

The first effort of the game came from the visitors, and it was a wayward shot from Nemanja Matic after 58 seconds with Palace yet to touch the ball.

The Eagles responded immediately, with first Yannick Bolasie causing some discomfort in the Chelsea defence, forcing Thibaut Courtois to make a smart block. This was quickly followed by Jason Puncheon and he watched agonisingly as his near post header deflected away from goal for a corner after excellent set-up play by Bolasie.

The see-saw start to the game reaped an early dividend and it came from the boot of mesmerising Brazil midfielder Oscar.

After James Delaney needlessly hauled down Willian at the edge of the Eagles penalty area on seven minutes, the mercurial Oscar produced a wonder curling, right-footed free kick that had goalkeeper Julian Speroni beaten all ends up at the ball arrowed high and wide of his dispairing dive to his right and the ball powered into his top right hand corner.
Palace caught Chelsea napping on 12 mo Utes when a long ball was under hit by Branislav Ivanovic, who attempted a back header to Courtois. Frazier Campbell was quickly on the ball and attempted to chip it over the goalkeeper. This he did, but the wall dropped onto the top of the visitors' netting.

Campbell sliced through the Chelsea rearguard like butter three minutes later. Unfortunately for the speed merchant he cut his angled left-foote across goal but no other Palace player had managed to keep up with him and the ball drifted away to safety.
A Willian snap shot, with minimal back left almost doubled the away side's lead on 17 minutes and Speroni was happy to see the cheeky effort inch over his crossbar.

Palace then had to absorb some stern pressure from Chelsea and their fans breathed a sigh of relief when James McArthur kicked of his line a John Terry flicked header on 20 minutes from a Cesc Fabregas corner.

But on the counter attack Palace are dangerous and two minutes later Courtois had to use all of his 6ft 6in frame to claw a sweet Bolasie chip out of the air after the wise man he sizzled past Ivanovic on the left before cutting in and trying his audacious effort.

The game was never dirty but there was a creeping undercurrent of malevolence in it and the Eagles fans were furious when Delany was brandished the yellow card from referee Craig Pawson on 30 minutes for a foul when three minutes earlier, Terry had escaped punishment for a similar offence.

Five minutes before the break and it all kicked off, Spain left back Cesar Azpilicueta went into a wild, two-footed challenge on Mile Jedinak in midfield. It was right in front of Pawson, who issued a straight red card to the defender. Fabregas and Campbell then went head-to-head lick to mini rutting stags -both got yellow cards for their pseudo mating ritual.

Jose Mourinho replaced Willian with Brazil left back Filipe Luis to retire balance in the Chelsea back four.

Two minutes later and parity was restored in numbers as Delaney, already on a yellow card committed a needless foul, pulling down striker Loic Remy. Pawson issued a yellow and then the obligatory red.

Every subsequent foul by the visitors was treated by the home side players and fans as if their player has being shot by a firing squad, but Pawson held his nerve to the half-time whistle.
Neither manager made a change of personnel at half-time in which the early play came from the visitors who confidently held possession of the ball, hoping to draw the Eagle out of their lair.

Quite which team would most miss this player would perhaps be reflected in the outcome of this London derby, but the early evidence suggested that the home side missed Delaney more than Chelsea missed Azpilicueta.

With the ball the Blues can be devastating as they inch towards the opposition penalty area and so it proved, six minutes after the restart. A passing move that seemed to include all but the goalkeeper eventually found Fabregas, free on the edge of the Eagles penalty area. He cooly slotted home between Speroni and his near right post to double the visitors lead.
Eagles boos Neil Warnock made his first substitution on 60 minutes replacing injured Joe Ledley with Adrian Marriappa.

Only a last-gasp diving interception from Martin Kelly three minutes later prevented Chelsea from capitalising on their total possession dominance, when the defender steered an Ivanovic cross away for a corner where Hazard was ready to pounce.

There came a comic moment on 69 minutes, with Chelsea happy to keep the ball and Warnock desperate to make a double substitution, the Eagles's inability to win the ball back and thus kick it out of play to allow the swaps, made even Jose Mourinho frustrated.

So he got off his bench and instructed his own players to kick the ball out.
Eventually, after another minute the ball left the field quickly followed by Puncheon and McArthur with Wilfred Zara for and Adiene Guedioura replacing them.

Some shots on goal, one from Hazard and another by Oscar gave the illusion that the away side was looking for a third, while Guedioura's hack and slash from 25 yards which sailed over Courtois's crossbar showed that the Eagles, when they did get a sniff of the Chelsea penalty area, just we not composed enough to take advantage.

Hazard trundled off the pitch, job done with five minutes left, replaced by Egypt winger Mohammed Salah.

With both sides seemingly accepting their respective fates, up popped Zara, on 90 minutes, on the right byline to cross the ball for Campbell to slide in to half the deficit.

The Eagles faithful cheered their hearts out for another chance as the referee add four minutes, but the Blues comfortably held off the limited offensive effort of the home side to justifiably secure all three points.

Teams: Crystal Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Hangeland, Delaney, Ward, Jedinak, Ledley, McArthur, Puncheon, Bolasie, Campbell.
Subs: Hennessey, Mariappa, Fryers, Bannan, Zaha, Gayle, Chamakh.

Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Willian, Oscar, Hazard, Remy.
Subs: Cech, Luis, Zouma, Salah, Mikel, Drogba, Solanke.

Referee: Craig Pawson