Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace: Alvaro Morata nets twice

Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace: Alvaro Morata nets twice before Pedro clinches victory as Blues continue their unbeaten start to Premier League season

  • Alvaro Morata opened the scoring for Chelsea from close range in the 32nd minute at Stamford Bridge 
  • Willian then thought he doubled Chelsea’s lead moments later but he was ruled offside by the linesman
  • Andros Townsend equalised for Crystal Palace in the 53rd minute with a low drive into the corner 
  • Spanish striker Morata then put Chelsea back in front thanks to a fine finish from a tight angle on Sunday
  • Then Pedro wrapped up proceedings, striking home past Wayne Hennessey with 20 minutes left
  • RECAP: Click here to take a look back at all the action from Sunday’s Premier League encounter

For a brief moment Crystal Palace believed. But then Chelsea threw Eden Hazard and – well – you know the rest.

The game was evenly poised at 1-1 when Maurizio Sarri sent for his mercurial Belgian, who’d missed the previous three games with a back injury, in the 64th minute.

In the 65th minute, Chelsea were back in front – inevitably Hazard was the instigator, his cross sweetly struck home by Alvaro Morata.

Pedro wrapped up the 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace thanks to a strike just 20 minutes from time at Stamford Bridge

Pedro wrapped up the 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace thanks to a strike just 20 minutes from time at Stamford Bridge

The Spanish winger scored once, while his compatriot Alvaro Morata netted twice in the entertaining Premier League clash

The Spanish winger scored once, while his compatriot Alvaro Morata netted twice in the entertaining Premier League clash

Pedro jumps into the hands of Marcos Alonso after putting the victory beyond doubt on Sunday afternoon against Palace

Pedro jumps into the hands of Marcos Alonso after putting the victory beyond doubt on Sunday afternoon against Palace

Pedro is congratulated by Mateo Kovacic as the Blues maintained their unbeaten start to the 2018-19 Premier League season

Pedro is congratulated by Mateo Kovacic as the Blues maintained their unbeaten start to the 2018-19 Premier League season

Morata put the hosts 2-1 in front again with a brilliant finish from a tight angle in the 65th minute of the clash

Morata put the hosts 2-1 in front again with a brilliant finish from a tight angle in the 65th minute of the clash

Morata jumps in the air to celebrate in front of the home Chelsea supporters as team-mate  Alonso runs over to join in

Morata jumps in the air to celebrate in front of the home Chelsea supporters as team-mate Alonso runs over to join in

The Spaniard, who has found it tough to discover his form this season, drives the ball low into the corner of the Palace goal

The Spaniard, who has found it tough to discover his form this season, drives the ball low into the corner of the Palace goal

The introduction of Eden Hazard in the second half changed the game, with the Belgian setting up Morata for his second

The introduction of Eden Hazard in the second half changed the game, with the Belgian setting up Morata for his second

PLAYER RATINGS, LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE 

Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa 6; Azpilicueta 6.5, Rudiger 7, Luiz 6.5, Alonso 7; Kante 6.5, Jorginho 7 (Fabregas 80), Barkley 6 (Kovacic 64, 6); Willian 6.5 (Hazard 64, 7), Morata 8, Pedro 7. Subs: Caballero, Loftus-Cheek, Zappacosta, Cahill.

Sarri: 7

Palace (4-4-2): Hennessey 7; Win-Bissaka 6.5, Tomkins 6, Sakho 5.5, Van Aanholt 6; McArthur 7 (Schlupp 80), Kouyate 6, Milivojevic 6, Meyer 6 (Ayew 71), Townsend 7, Zaha 6.5. Subs: Guaita, Sorloth, Kelly, Puncheon, Riedewald. Booked: Milivojevic.

Hodgson: 6.5

Referee: Michael Oliver – 6.5

Att: 40,407

MOM: Morata

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This is how Alvaro Morata scored Chelsea's second goal of the game against Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon. CLICK HERE to take a look at our brilliant MATCH ZONE.

This is how Alvaro Morata scored Chelsea’s second goal of the game against Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon. CLICK HERE to take a look at our brilliant MATCH ZONE.

Even by Hazard’s sky-high standards, that was quite an introduction. But are we at all surprised?

Here at Stamford Bridge, Hazard dragged his team over the line as the Blues survived a mini wobble to maintain their unbeaten start to the season with a victory that moves them to second place behind Manchester City.

Whisper it, but the feeling Chelsea can be Pep Guardiola side’s nearest challengers this season is growing.

With Hazard in their team, who’d bet against that? Along with the Belgian, striker Morata was the other big winner in this London derby.

His brace will do his confidence no harm at all, even if he did miss a golden chance to complete his hat-trick with virtually the last kick of the game.

But the early exchanges offered little insight of how this game would finish as Palace made light of their recent struggles to start brightly.

As you’d expect Wilfried Zaha led the away team’s charge, a nimble run into the box had Chelsea’s defence panicking inside the opening five minutes.

Indeed, Palace’s talisman conjured the first real opportunity of the encounter, teeing up Max Meyer on the edge of the box only for the German to fire wildly over in the 20th minute.

Andros Townsend equalised for Crystal Palace in the 53rd minute at Stamford Bridge with a fine solo finish 

Andros Townsend equalised for Crystal Palace in the 53rd minute at Stamford Bridge with a fine solo finish 

Townsend's team-mates go over to celebrate with the goalscorer in front of the travelling away support on Sunday

Townsend’s team-mates go over to celebrate with the goalscorer in front of the travelling away support on Sunday

The English winger celebrates with his jubilant team-mates as Palace found a way back into the entertaining match

The English winger celebrates with his jubilant team-mates as Palace found a way back into the entertaining match

Townsend drives the ball into the right hand corner of Kepa Arrizabalaga to level the scoring in West London

Townsend drives the ball into the right hand corner of Kepa Arrizabalaga to level the scoring in West London

Wayne Hennessey celebrates Townsend's leveller at Stamford Bridge during the second half on the weekend

Wayne Hennessey celebrates Townsend’s leveller at Stamford Bridge during the second half on the weekend

Brazilian midfielder Willian shows his dejection following the Eagles' equaliser early on in the second period

Brazilian midfielder Willian shows his dejection following the Eagles’ equaliser early on in the second period

Zaha set up Mayer again just moments later only for the Palace midfielder to be wasteful again.

Of course, that’s been the story of Palace’s season: woeful in front of goal.

Five goals from open play all season tells its own story. Palace will back Hodgson with substantial funds to sign a goalscorer in January.

Right now, 2019 can’t come soon enough for the Eagles boss. Their punishment for being wasteful in those early stages was almost inevitable.

Chelsea’s opener duly arrived in the 31st minute, Morata neatly firing home from close range from Pedro’s pass.

Hodgson will point to James Tomkins’ tame header in trying to deal with Pedro’s original cross as to why his team fell behind.

But that’s the danger this current Palace outfit has to deal with every time they step out on to the field.

When goals are sparse, one defensive error costs you two-fold.

And by the end of the opening 45 minutes, Palace were fortunate the deficit wasn’t increased.

Willian tries to dribble away from midfielder James McArthur while fans watch on with the match still in the balance

Willian tries to dribble away from midfielder James McArthur while fans watch on with the match still in the balance

Morata broke the deadlock for Chelsea in the 32nd minute at Stamford Bridge after scoring from close range

Morata broke the deadlock for Chelsea in the 32nd minute at Stamford Bridge after scoring from close range

Morata, who scored in the 4-0 victory over Burnley, celebrates in front of the ecstatic home fans on Sunday afternoon

Morata, who scored in the 4-0 victory over Burnley, celebrates in front of the ecstatic home fans on Sunday afternoon

26-year-old Morata fired home from close range following an assist from Spanish compatriot Pedro 

26-year-old Morata fired home from close range following an assist from Spanish compatriot Pedro 

The Spanish striker slots past Palace goalkeeper Hennessey during the first half of the top flight fixture on the weekend

The Spanish striker slots past Palace goalkeeper Hennessey during the first half of the top flight fixture on the weekend

Willian’s effort after Pedro’s shot was charged down was narrowly ruled out for offside before Morata looped a header just over the bar.

But last week’s battling point against Arsenal offered Palace hope that all was not lost here at Stamford Bridge.

That would have been the gist of Hodgson’s half-time battlecry. Whatever the Eagles boss said, it worked wonders as Palace struck a surprise leveller eight minutes after the restart.

James McArthur’s ball was inch perfect, Townsend didn’t have to break his stride as he sped past David Luiz.

The finish, when it arrived, was unerring – low down to Kepa’s right. The ball was past the Spanish keeper before he could even react.

Yet, Hodgson’s heart was in his mouth just moments later when Hennessey produced an excellent stop to deny Morata’s bullet header – though the goal wouldn’t have stood after the Spain striker was ruled in an offside position.

Hennessey was at full stretch again in the 63rd minute to deny Luiz’s header from Willian’s cross.

Cesar Azpilicueta heads the ball up field as Max Meyer puts pressure on the Spanish right back at Stamford Bridge

Cesar Azpilicueta heads the ball up field as Max Meyer puts pressure on the Spanish right back at Stamford Bridge

Palace dangerman Wilfried Zaha tries to evade the pressure of Chelsea centre back David Luiz during the early stages

Palace dangerman Wilfried Zaha tries to evade the pressure of Chelsea centre back David Luiz during the early stages

Roy Hodgson shakes hands with Maurizio Sarri just moments before action got underway in the Premier League encounter

Roy Hodgson shakes hands with Maurizio Sarri just moments before action got underway in the Premier League encounter

But suddenly, a game that looked to be heading in one direction at half-time was in the balance.

And Sarri sent for the cavalry; Hazard – who has missed the last three games with a back problem – sent on for Willian.

The Belgian’s impact was immediate. It took Hazard a little over a minute to have a major say in winning this game for Chelsea.

The forward’s free kick caused utter havoc in the Palace area – Mamadou Sakho making a hash of trying to head clear.

Lurking unmarked at the back post was Morata, who gobbled up the the opportunity to fire a low angled drive past Hennessey to restore Chelsea’s lead.

Five minutes later, Chelsea put the game out of reach when Pedro slotted home Marcos Alonso’s low cross. 

Chelsea and Crystal Palace pay their respects to late Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha before kick-off on Sunday

Chelsea and Crystal Palace pay their respects to late Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha before kick-off on Sunday

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