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May 31 2023 2.11am

Palace stun leaders Chelsea

April 1 2017

Christian Benteke

Christian Benteke

Crystal Palace beat Premier League table toppers Chelsea with a shock 2-1 away win.

Sam Allardyce's men eased their relegation fears with a fourth successive victory and are now four points above the drop zone after an unlikely victory.

Chelsea, who had won their past 10 league games at Stamford Bridge and were undefeated there since September 16, went ahead after just five minutes when Cesc Fabregas tucked away Eden Hazard's cross.

It looked like another three points in the bag for Antonio Conte's team but this new-look Palace side are a different proposition under Allardyce.

The Eagles drew level four minutes later after Christian Benteke fed Wilfried Zaha and he held off Cesar Azpilicueta and Nemanja Matic before striking a shot into the bottom corner.

Palace then took the lead on 11 minutes, as Benteke broke free and played in Zaha, whose return pass was inch-perfect for the striker to calmly lob the ball over keeper Thibaut Courtois.

The hosts had claims for a penalty when Pedro's shot struck the arm of Andros Townsend, and for the rest of the game, it was backs-to-the wall defending by the Eagles.

Wayne Hennessey had one of his best performances in a Palace shirt by making vital saves from Diego Costa, Marcos Alonso, Eden Hazard and Matic.

Palace had to reshuffle at the break with James Tomkins suffering a calf injury and was replaced by Scott Dann. However, Dann had to be stretchered off just 15 minutes later after an awkward collision with Costa, so Damien Delaney took his place.

Allardyce then went to five at the back with Martin Kelly coming on for Townsend to help thwart the wave of Chelsea attacks.

Zaha almost sealed the win with a counter-attacking goal but Courtois saved with his boot, while Costa headed a golden opportunity wide for the Blues.

Despite 10 minutes of stoppage time, mostly due to Dann's injury, Palace valiantly held on to claim what could be a season-defining triumph.

Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz, Alonso (Batshuayi 74), Matic (Willian 59), Kante, Hazard, Fabregas (Loftus-Cheek 90), Pedro, Costa.

Not used: Begovic, Zouma, Terry, Chalobah.

Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Tomkins (Dann 46, Delaney 60), Sakho, Schlupp, Cabaye, Milivojevic, Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend (Kelly 60), Benteke.

Not used: Speroni, Ledley, Sako, Kaikai

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