An impressive Chelsea moved back into the top four of the Premier League with a dominant victory at Crystal Palace.
Beaten 5-2 at home last weekend by struggling West Brom, the Blues quickly set about making amends, scoring twice in the opening 10 minutes, during which the overwhelmed home side barely got a kick of the ball.
Kai Havertz curled in the first before turning provider to set up Christian Pulisic to fire the second into the roof of the net from close range.
Kurt Zouma all-but ended the game as a contest on the half-hour mark, rising highest to head in a Mason Mount free-kick.
And the visitors could easily have had more before the break but for some good goalkeeping from Vicente Guaita and a goalline clearance from Patrick van Aanholt to clear another Zouma effort.
Christian Benteke headed in Jeffrey Schlupp’s cross to reduce the deficit to reward an improved second-half showing from Palace with 25 minutes to go, but Pulisic’s far-post finish from Reece James’ cross ended any hope of an unlikely comeback.
A redemptive week for Chelsea
Chelsea suffered the first bump in the road of Thomas Tuchel’s managerial tenure last weekend, with West Brom’s shock win.
Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Porto in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final washed away some of the negativity from that result, putting them in a great position to reach the last four.
And they completed the job with this one-sided display that puts them back in the English top-flight top four, ahead of the likes of Liverpool and West Ham, who will replace them if they win their game in hand at home to Leicester on Sunday.
They had full control of the game before the 11th minute and sealed the win ahead of the 31st through a display packed with neat, precision passing, effective high pressing and clinical finishing.
Keeping up such a relentless display throughout the game was always unlikely, but even when Palace were able to muster something to hurt them, the Blues always had a higher gear to click into.
Palace started the game aiming for a fourth successive top-flight clean sheet at home for the first time since 1992. They spent the majority of the game simply trying to keep the scoreline respectable.
With 38 points, 12 more than 18th-placed Fulham, Roy Hodgson’s side will not be going down this season but the ex-England boss will want to see his side compete better over their remaining fixtures.
Tuchel and his side still have plenty to do if they are to end the season with a place in the 2021-22 Champions League, but the last four days have set them up for a big last push.
Chelsea’s dominance over Palace continues
- Crystal Palace have lost each of their last seven Premier League games against Chelsea – only against Tottenham (nine consecutive matches between September 2015 – September 2019) have the Eagles lost more games consecutively versus a specific opponent in their Football League history.
- Chelsea are yet to lose on the road under Thomas Tuchel in the Premier League (P6 W4 D2) – the only Blues manager to avoid defeat in his first six away games in the competition was Felipe Scolari (unbeaten in first 10).
- None of the last 20 Premier League meetings between Crystal Palace and Chelsea have ended as a draw – only Newcastle v Spurs between August 1999 and December 2010 has had a longer run of games without a drawn game in the competition (21).
- Chelsea scored two goals within the opening 10 minutes of a Premier League game for the first time since January 2018 against Brighton (6 minutes), while there were just 102 seconds separating Kai Havertz’s opener and Christian Pulisic’s strike for the Blues.
- Kai Havertz scored and assisted in a single league game for the first time as a Chelsea player, last doing so for Bayer 04 Leverkusen against 1. FC KÃ¶ln in the Bundesliga in June 2020.
- Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic has scored more Premier League goals against Crystal Palace than against any other side (4), while the only Americans to score more than Pulisic (13) in the competition are Clint Dempsey (57) and Brian McBride (36).
- All four of Mason Mount’s Premier League assists this season for Chelsea have been for headed goals from set piece situations, with three of those being scored by Kurt Zouma.
- Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma has scored five goals in the Premier League this season, more than any other defender. His five league goals this campaign have come from 19 appearances having scored just four goals in his first 141 Premier League games for Chelsea, Stoke and Everton combined.
- Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke has been directly involved in nine goals in his last 11 Premier League appearances against Chelsea (7 goals, 2 assists). He has scored in four home games against them and is yet to end on the winning side (D1 L3) with only Matt Le Tissier v Nottingham Forest (five) scoring in more home Premier League matches against a specific opponent without ending on the winning side.
Crystal Palace have a bit of time off, playing next at Leicester in the Premier League (in a 20:00 BST kick-off on 26 April).
Chelsea also have a little gap now until their next league game, against Brighton on Tuesday, 20 April (20:00). Before then, they have the second leg of their Champions League tie with Porto (this coming Tuesday) and an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City next Saturday.
- 8KouyatÃ©Booked at 29mins
- 3van Aanholt
- 9J AyewSubstituted forTownsendat 76′minutes
- 44RiedewaldSubstituted forMcCarthyat 59′minutes
- 25EzeSubstituted forSchluppat 59′minutes
- 20Hudson-OdoiSubstituted forJamesat 76′minutes
- 5JorginhoSubstituted forKantÃ©at 61′minutes
- 17KovacicSubstituted forZiyechat 83′minutes
Match ends, Crystal Palace 1, Chelsea 4.
Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 1, Chelsea 4.
Attempt blocked. Reece James (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Christian Pulisic.
Attempt saved. Kai Havertz (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Hakim Ziyech.
Offside, Crystal Palace. Andros Townsend tries a through ball, but Wilfried Zaha is caught offside.
Foul by CÃ©sar Azpilicueta (Chelsea).
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Mason Mount (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Reece James.
Substitution, Chelsea. Hakim Ziyech replaces Mateo Kovacic.
Foul by Reece James (Chelsea).
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Offside, Chelsea. Kurt Zouma tries a through ball, but Mason Mount is caught offside.
Reece James (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace).
Goal! Crystal Palace 1, Chelsea 4. Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) left footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal.
Hand ball by Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace).
Substitution, Chelsea. Reece James replaces Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Andros Townsend replaces Jordan Ayew.
Attempt missed. Mason Mount (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Mateo Kovacic.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.