English Premiership

Palace's Zaha stuns Chelsea

2017-04-01 18:23
Wilfried Zaha (Getty)

London - Chelsea's march towards the Premier League title was stalled as goals from Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke earned Crystal Palace a shock 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Defeat ended Chelsea's run of 13 successive home wins and enabled second-place Tottenham Hotspur to cut their lead to seven points with nine games remaining.

Antonio Conte's side had taken the lead through Cesc Fabregas's fifth-minute effort, but the visitors hit back first through the outstanding Zaha, four minutes later, and then Benteke.

The visitors then held on to claim a fourth successive win that strengthened their bid to avoid relegation.

Sam Allardyce had warned his side would have to score first if they were to have any chance of getting something out of this game.

On that basis, the Palace manager must have feared the worst when Fabregas put the home side ahead.

Eden Hazard had been doubtful for this game, having sat out the trip to Stoke City and both of Belgium's matches last week with a calf problem.

But the winger quickly confirmed he was back to his best by tormenting Palace right-back Joel Ward before drilling in a low cross that was turned home at the near post by Fabregas.

The signs were ominous for Allardyce's men, whose improved recent form has owed more to resilient defensive work rather than their attacking prowess.

Had Chelsea been allowed to settle and establish their superiority after taking the lead, Palace's confidence might have started to fade.

Instead, Allardyce's side struck back quickly through Zaha, who has been a constant threat during Palace's recent upturn.

Like Hazard, the Palace winger found himself the subject of debate last week, in Zaha's case over his decision to commit his international future to Ivory Coast and not England.

England manager Gareth Southgate expressed disappointment about his defection to the land of his birth, prompting angry responses from Zaha's agent and Steve Parish, the Palace chairman.

Zaha, though, showed his focus was entirely on club matters when he revived Palace's hopes with a superb individual effort.

The former Manchester United winger drifted past two Chelsea defenders before placing a shot across Thibaut Courtois after being released by Benteke's flick from Ward's cross.

Two minutes later, Palace took control of the game after the Chelsea defence was again found wanting.

This time Benteke led a breakaway after winning the ball in the Palace half, advancing deep into Chelsea territory before benefiting from a fortunate ricochet after being challenged by David Luiz.

The ball rolled into the path of Zaha, who had time and space on the left of the Chelsea box to play a return pass to Benteke, who produced a nerveless finish, lifting the ball over the prone Courtois.

The onus was now on Chelsea to force their way back into the game and Conte's side inevitably dominated possession for the remainder of the first half.

They were unable, however, to find a way through the combination of Palace's determined defenders and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

The Wales international produced a succession of fine saves, including one with his legs to repel Costa's volley.

The pattern of play was maintained in the second half, with Chelsea enjoying an even greater share of possession.

But Palace still had chances to extend their lead, with Zaha denied by a good Courtois save before two Yohan Cabaye free-kicks almost led to a third goal.

By the time Costa directed a close-range header wide from Hazard's cross, Chelsea's hopes of rescuing a draw had disappeared.

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Saturday, 26 August 2017
AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City, Vitality Stadium 13:30
Crystal Palace v Swansea City, Selhurst Park 16:00
Newcastle United v West Ham United, St. James' Park 16:00
Huddersfield Town v Southampton, The John Smith's Stadium 16:00
Watford v Brighton & Hove Albion, Vicarage Road Stadium 16:00
Manchester United v Leicester City, Old Trafford 18:30
Sunday, 27 August 2017
Chelsea v Everton, Stamford Bridge 14:30
West Bromwich Albion v Stoke City, The Hawthorns 14:30
Liverpool v Arsenal, Anfield 17:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley, Wembley Stadium 17:00
Saturday, 09 September 2017
Manchester City v Liverpool, Etihad Stadium 13:30
Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth, Emirates Stadium 16:00
Everton v Tottenham Hotspur, Goodison Park 16:00
Leicester City v Chelsea, King Power Stadium 16:00
Southampton v Watford, St. Mary's Stadium 16:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v West Bromwich Albion, The American Express Community Stadium 16:00
Stoke City v Manchester United, Bet365 Stadium 18:30
Logs
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2016/17 season?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.