Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea
Chelsea were lackluster in midfield and clueless in attack. They struggled to show clarity in the attacking third. Hakim Ziyech was arguably the best player for Chelsea, and it was no surprise that he came up with a clutch late goal to see Chelsea undeservingly prevail in the PL tie. Crystal Palace have now lost their last three games at Selhurst Park. Not great for Patrick Viera. Despite a strong showing, they still lost to their London rivals. Michael Olise was sensational, but it was not enough to inspire his teammates to a win or draw. Wilfried Zaha missed their best chance of the game before halftime, and it could have changed the complexion of this game.
Chelsea secured the Club World Cup trophy for the first time in Abu Dhabi. They barely had time to celebrate as they traveled to Selhurst Park to face Patrick Viera’s Crystal Palace in the London derby.
Patrick Viera spoke in his press conference about the importance of turning draws into wins. A concern that his opponent Thomas Tuchel would agree with. Both teams have drawn the same number of matches in the Premier League this season. Crystal Palace, however, had their work cut out despite having the home advantage. They hadn’t beaten the world champions in their last eight meetings.
The eagles had a bright start to the game. They created half chances, showed good ball movement early on, yet failed to test Edouard Mendy. Despite controlling possession, the blues failed to muster dangerous chances. Crystal Palace relied on the counter to keep Tuchel’s men honest at the back.
A hardly captivating half marred by a clueless attack from the blues and a couple of missed half chances. Olise fired wide in the early minutes from a tight angle. Chelsea responded. Hakim Ziyech’s trademark cross nearly found Cristian Pulisic at the back post. Antonio Rudiger also had a decent effort from 30 yards. Vicente Guaita saved it. The best chance of the half fell to Wilfred Zaha in the dying embers of the first half. A well-weighted pass from Michael Olise found Zaha behind the Chelsea defense. He was clear on goal but pulled his effort wide.
An injury to Vicente Guaita forced Palace into an early second-half change. Jack Butland replaced him. Both teams picked up where they left off in the first half. Chelsea kept giving away the ball easily with stray passes. They looked tense and uneasy with the ball and couldn’t create anything dangerous.
Patrick Viera’s men couldn’t create dangerous chances either. However, they managed to even up the possession stats. In the 75th minute, Tuchel made three substitutions at once to win the midfield battle. Chelsea thought they had gone ahead seconds after the changes. Substitute Mateo Kovacic put Romelu Lukaku through. His shot was saved by Butland but straight into Hakim Ziyech. The Moroccan poked it home, but after a VAR review, Lukaku was ruled offside, and the goal didn’t stand.
Hakim Ziyech was Chelsea’s breath of fresh air. He was the most dangerous outlet the blues had on the pitch. He showed his predatory brilliance when he slotted home Marcos Alonso’s deep cross in the 89th minute. It may not have been deserved but they’ll take the points and run.
Chelsea plucked a vital three points at the death. Thomas Tuchel would certainly not be happy with the play but will gracefully take all the points. Palace will feel aggrieved. It was a 50/50 game that Chelsea managed to edge.