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Chelsea v Crystal Palace – story of the match

Willian was the star of the show for Chelsea.

Chelsea clung on to a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge which will do little to boost the Blues’ fragile confidence ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Barcelona.

Willian’s fifth goal in five games and an own goal from Martin Kelly gave Chelsea a 2-0 half-time lead, but Palace gave their hosts plenty of cause for concern.

Palace striker Alexander Sorloth hit the post after 47 minutes and had a late strike ruled out before Patrick van Aanholt scored against his former club in the 90th minute.

Tweet of the match

“HT Palace sub: he’s back. Wilfried Zaha replaces Benteke.” – Crystal Palace’s official account heralds the return of key forward Zaha.

Star man: Willian

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Chelsea v Crystal Palace – Premier League – Stamford Bridge

In addition to scoring the opening goal for Chelsea and proving to be their most consistent threat in the final third, the Brazil international was the key man when it came to setting the tempo of the game for the Blues. Willian provided the spark for the hosts and showed exactly why he is so dependable for Conte’s side, despite his limited time on the pitch since the new year.

Data point

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Chelsea v Crystal Palace – Premier League – Stamford Bridge

Willian has now scored five in his past five games in a hot run of form which includes goals against Barcelona and Manchester United. At a time when Chelsea boss Antonio Conte remains unconvinced about his recognised strikers Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud – and continues to experiment with Eden Hazard as a “false nine” – the 29-year-old is stepping up to the plate at a crucial time in Chelsea’s season as they bid to secure a top-four finish and Champions League place.

Highlight of the match

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Chelsea v Crystal Palace – Premier League – Stamford Bridge

When Davide Zappacosta’s strike bounced off of Martin Kelly, back onto goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, then again against Kelly and into the back of the net, a comical reminder was provided of why some Crystal Palace supporters consider the pair liabilities.

Ratings

Chelsea:  Thibaut Courtois 5 (out of 10), Cesar Azpilicueta 6, Andreas Christensen 7, Gary Cahill 6, Davide Zappacosta 8, Cesc Fabregas 7, N’Golo Kante 8, Marcos Alonso 7, Willian 9, Eden Hazard 8, Olivier Giroud 7.

Substitutes:  Alvaro Morata (for Giroud, 72mins) 5, Pedro (for Fabregas, 88mins) 5, Tiemoue Bakayoko (for Hazard, 88mins) 5.

Crystal Palace: Wayne Hennessey 4, Aaron Wan-Bissaka 5, Martin Kelly 4, James Tomkins 6, Patrick van Aanholt 7, Andros Townsend 5, Luka Milivojevic 6, James McArthur 6, Jeffrey Schlupp 5, Christian Benteke 6, Alexander Sorloth 6.

Substitutes: Wilfried Zaha (for Benteke, 45mins) 7, Jairo Riedewald (for Schlupp, 75mins) 5, Lee Chung-yong (for Townsend, 81mins) 5.

Who’s up next?

Barcelona v Chelsea, Champions League, March 14

Huddersfield v Chelsea, Premier League, March 17

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