BY SAM SMITH
Four second half goals by Chelsea earned the Blues a comfortable victory over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.
After an eventless opening period in which neither goalkeeper was seriously tested, the hosts took control of the game after half-time.
Ben Chilwell opened the scoring five minutes after the break on his maiden Premier League start for Chelsea, but his thumping strike followed an uncharacteristic mistake by the Eagles.
Roy Hodgson’s side had defended resolutely until Mamadou Sakho scuffed a clearance after Tyrick Mitchell had done well to deny Callum Hudson-Odoi a crossing opportunity. The ball was recycled back into the box and Chilwell was left untracked at the back post to hammer a shot past Vicente Guaita.
And it was a one-way stream of Chelsea attacks from that moment. Palace struggled to advance out of their own half. Wilfried Zaha was completely isolated up front and could have had more of an impact in a deeper position – able to collect the ball and drive forward rather than being the final point of attack.
Eberechi Eze was impressive on his second league start and his free-kick midway through the first half was put into a dangerous area but nobody in a Palace shirt was able to meet it. Cheikhou Kouyate had headed a corner back across goal but there was the same absence of a scoring presence able to convert.
Chilwell turned creator when his cross was met by Kurt Zouma to head home his second goal of the season.
Following Sakho’s error, it was then sloppy fouls in the penalty area that allowed Chelsea to extend their lead. First, Mitchell tripped Tammy Abraham and Jorginho sent Guaita the wrong way from the spot – skipping before diverting the ball to the right while the Spanish goalkeeper dived left.
An almost identical penalty by the Italian – won after Sakho impeded Kai Havertz – added further gloss to the score line with just five minutes remaining.
Star man: Eberechi Eze seemed the likeliest to create anything for the Eagles, and his free-kick swung into a dangerous area was one of very few chances for the South Londoners.
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