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Eagles record a hit at Chelsea

Written By: Robert Halter

It was the fiftieth encounter as Chelsea measured up to Crystal Palace. In the third minute, Luka Milivojevic pulled down Cesc Fabregas, but the free kick by Marcos Alonso was fired directly at Wayne Hennessey. But the Blues took the lead on five minutes, when an over the top delivery by Fabregas found Eden Hazard, whose low cross was tucked away by Fabregas. But in the ninth minute, the Eagles had landed, after a quick piece of foot work by Christian Benteke, who gave Wilfried Saha, the opportunity to strike a low drive into the bottom left corner. Incredibly within two minutes, Crystal Palace went 2-1 ahead, as Saha combined with Benteke down the left, and with Thibaut Courtois stranded, Benteke raced into the area to chip the ball over the Blues keeper. Midway through the first half after Hazard combined with Fabregas, it created an opening for Diego Costa, who riffled the ball directly at Hennessey. In the twenty fourth minute, from a Benteke headed pass, Jeffrey Schlupp sent a left footed shot wide to the left. The Eagles pressed again three minutes later, when Nemanja Matic lost possession to Yohan Cabaye, and the ball was driven wide of the right post by Jason Puncheon. In the thirty first minute, after a clumsy challenge by Puncheon on Costa, a free kick from David Luiz, went straight into the safe keeping of Hennessey. After thirty seven minutes, Costa supplied Marcos Alonso, whose ball across was just too far over for Hazard. In the following two minutes, after Fabregas played through Hazard, his first time shot left Hennessey sprawling to fend the ball away. Hennessey was then called into action once more to stop a low strike by Matic through an assist by Hazard. Although Palace threatened again in the forty second minute, as James Tomkins put a header over from an Andros Townsend corner. The Blues replied when N’Golo Kante found his pass rebound off Benteke, before a shot by Cesar Azpilicueta, was thrashed over the upright. Before half time, from a free kick by Fabregas, a cushioned header by Matic, had to be clawed over the crossbar by Hennessey, after Milivojevic had appended Matic. Before the re-start, Scott Dann replaced Tomkins. In the fifty fourth minute, the outstretched leg of Hennessey thwarted Costa, after an incisive pass by Fabregas. After Pedro teed the ball up for Costa, an interception by Dann proved costly as he was taken off on a stretcher and Damien Delaney was brought on. Just after the Blues took off Matic for Willian, while the Eagles also replaced Townsend with Martin Kelly. The Eagles then went on the counter attack, as Benteke orchestrated the move, before Puncheon opened up the Blues defence, and it took the outstretched leg of Courtois, to force away a low shot by an unmarked Zaha. On sixty seven minutes, after Luiz brought down Zaha, a free kick by Cabaye, was bent wide of the right post. On seventy one minutes, after Schlupp had been fouled by Luiz, a free kick by Cabaye, drifted over to the back stick for Delaney to knock onto Benteke, who turned the ball over. Chelsea then got a free kick, and Willian bent the ball over having been fouled by Milivojevic. The Blues then took off Alonso for Michy Batshuayi. But on seventy five minutes, Costa turned a header wide from a cross on the left by Hazard. An important goal line clearance by Mamadou Sakho dealt with a dangerous ball in from Pedro, before he did the same again to deal with another Pedro cross. On eighty five minutes, when Hazard found Willian, a close range effort by Fabregas was blocked with Hennessey’s knee. On ninety minutes, from a Fabregas ball over, a header by Costa went high and wide.  Into stoppage time, Zaha spurned another chance by firing over in range of the target, after he was picked out by Schlupp. At the end, Fabregas was taken off for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and after Hennessey punched clear a free kick by Willian, following a foul on Hazard by Milivojevic, the Eagles secured an unlikely win against the league leaders, Chelsea.