BY SAM SMITH
Tammy Abraham came off the bench to strike the winning goal as Chelsea defeated Crystal Palace 3-2 in an entertaining game at Selhurst Park.
Goals by Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic handed the Blues a 2-0 lead before a Wilfried Zaha wonderstrike halved the deficit before half-time.
Abraham struck the third via the post before Christian Benteke grabbed a goal back for the Eagles. Scott Dann hit the post in the final minute for Palace, who are now without a win in four despite a much-improved performance.
The hosts fell behind within five minutes in unfortunate circumstances. Gary Cahill appeared to have a loose ball under control but fell clutching his hamstring. Willian continued and squared for Giroud to tap in.
Roy Hodgson’s side seemed far more cohesive than they were in their 3-0 defeat at Leicester City on Saturday.
But this is a Blues side that has really hit form since the restart. Here, just as they were in their previous victory against Watford, Frank Lampard’s men were devastating on the counter-attack and Palace were largely second-best.
Pulisic took on Joel Ward and thundered a second goal inside Vicente Guaita’s near post with his left foot.
This is a Palace side that had not scored since the first half of their victory over Bournemouth three games prior. It appeared they would require a moment of brilliance to edge back into this match, and they got it through Wilfried Zaha.
The Ivorian took control of a loose ball 30 yards from goal, strode forward and thundered an effort high into Arrizabalaga’s net.
Zaha’s strike invigorated the Eagles – and the winger himself as he had not scored in 2020.
Palace dominated most of the play in the second half, playing high up the pitch and trying to find gaps in the Chelsea back four. But that left them exposed to a potential counter-attack, and the former Eagles loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek combined with fellow substitute Abraham for the latter to score.
Christian Benteke had featured prominently throughout the game and was on hand to halve the deficit once again almost immediately after Chelsea’s goal. Patrick van Aanholt found a way to the byline before cutting the ball back for the Belgian to tap in his second goal of the campaign.
But there was to be no late equaliser for the Eagles, despite their best efforts. Scott Dann struck the post in the fourth minute of added-time. Kurt Zouma denied Benteke with the striker through on goal.
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