Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace: Alvaro Morata guides unbeaten Blues up to second
Alvaro Morata scored twice as Chelsea reclaimed second spot in the Premier League with a 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.
The Spain international continued his recent upturn in form as he scored in each half before Pedro sealed the win that extends Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the season to 11 games.
Andros Townsend equalised for Palace early in the second half but Roy Hodgson’s men were unable to prevent a fifth defeat in six that leaves them 14th in the table.
The victory keeps Chelsea within two points of leaders Manchester City and sees Maurizio Sarri equal the record for the most games without defeat by a new Premier League manager.
Chelsea: Kepa (7), Alonso (6), Luiz (6), Rudiger (6), Azpilicueta (6), Kante (7), Jorginho (6), Barkley (6), Pedro (8), Morata (8), Willian (6).
Subs: Fabregas (5), Hazard (6), Kovacic (6).
Crystal Palace: Hennessey (6), Van Aanholt (6), Tomkins (5), Sakho (5), Wan-Bissaka (6), Townsend (7), Milivojevic (6), McArthur (6), Kouyate (5), Meyer (6), Zaha (7).
Subs: Ayew (5), Schlupp (5).
Man of the Match: Alvaro Morata.
Chelsea took an age to find their rhythm in an opening quarter which belonged to Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, who stamped his authority on the game with a demonstration of his threat on the counter.
Max Meyer blazed Palace’s first chance over on 20 minutes before a last-gasp block from David Luiz prevented the midfielder from finding the target, after an intricate through pass from Zaha.
However, Palace’s failure to punish a lethargic Chelsea came back to haunt them on 33 minutes, as Pedro’s pass inside found Morata, who took a touch before rifling the ball past Wayne Hennessey.
Chelsea thought they had scored a quickfire second two minutes later, but Willian’s close-range effort was correctly ruled out for offside.
Chelsea were unchanged from their victory at Burnley but Eden Hazard returned to the bench as he continued his recovery from a back injury. Max Meyer replaces Jordan Ayew in Crystal Palace’s only change from their 2-2 draw with Arsenal.
Morata could have doubled his tally on 39 minutes but he glanced a header onto the roof of the goal after Marcos Alonso’s knock-back from a Willian free-kick.
Palace were level eight minutes into the second half as a neat exchange between James McArthur and Townsend released the Palace forward through on goal, and he clinically found the bottom corner of Kepa Arrizabalaga’s goal.
Hennessey brilliantly tipped a goal-bound Luiz header over on 63 minutes as Chelsea sought to regain the lead. Two minutes later, though, the Palace goalkeeper was beaten for a second time.
Ninety seconds after coming on, Chelsea substitute Eden Hazard won and delivered a free-kick into the Palace area which bobbled around before Morata applied the finishing touch – his sixth goal in his last six games.
Two quickly became three as Alonso’s diagonal cross picked out the run of Pedro, who got in on the act by slotting home on 70 minutes.
It was plain sailing from there on for Chelsea, the only negative being that Morata spurned the chance to secure his second hat-trick for the club as Hennessey read his lofted finish in a stoppage-time one-on-one.
- Chelsea are undefeated in their opening 11 Premier League matches of this season (W8 D3 L0) – they won the league in the previous two seasons they achieved this (2005-06 and 2014-15).
- Maurizio Sarri is unbeaten in his first 11 Premier League games as Chelsea manager – this is the joint-longest unbeaten start by a Premier League manager, equalling the record set by Frank Clark in 1994.
- Crystal Palace have taken just five points from their last 10 Premier League matches (W1 D2 L7).
- Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata has scored four goals in his last four Premier League games – one more than in his previous 23 appearances in the competition combined (3).
- Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend has scored three Premier League goals against Chelsea – more than he has against any other opponent.
- Eden Hazard assisted Alvaro Morata’s second goal for Chelsea just 91 seconds after coming on as a substitute.
- Pedro has ended on the winning side in 39 of the 40 home top-flight matches he’s scored in during his career (26 of 27 with Barcelona, 13 of 13 with Chelsea), drawing the other with Villarreal in January 2010.
Man of the Match – Alvaro Morata
After a barren start to the season, Morata appears to have finally found his feet under Sarri. He led the line with an assured level of conviction, something which has been scarce in his game in recent months. The composure with which he took his fifth and sixth goals in his last six club matches were a welcomed sight to both player and manager, as the Spaniard stepped up to the plate in the continued absence of Hazard.
Chelsea vs Everton
November 11, 2018, 1:00pm
Chelsea travel to Belarus for Thursday’s Europa League group-stage clash with BATE Borisov, before hosting Everton at Stamford Bridge on Renault Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League. Palace host Tottenham at Selhurst Park on Saturday at 5.30pm.
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