Chelsea finished strongly to win 3-1 at Crystal Palace, with Conor Gallagher punishing his former side at Selhurst Park.
The exhausted hosts, who had lost the influential Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze and Marc Guehi to injury, took the lead via a Jefferson Lerma screamer – his first goal for the Eagles.
Gallagher equalized almost immediately after a delayed start to the second half, scoring his first of the Premier League season in the 47th minute.
When it looked like the relegation-threatened hosts were on the verge of securing a valuable point, Gallagher scored his second goal just before normal time, moments before Enzo Fernandez ensured Chelsea would end the night in the upper half of the table.
It was difficult to predict what kind of reception Palace would receive following the 4-1 defeat to rivals Brighton, after which some players and away fans exchanged heated remarks and the frequent appearance of protest banners in recent weeks.
And although several were mentioned before kick-off – among them “supporters ignored and taken for granted” – the general mood was perhaps less bitter than boss Roy Hodgson, who had begged his supporters to supporting his diminished team, might have been expected.
Their players responded with an encouraging start, although the visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, tackling loose balls with promising strikes in Chelsea’s final third.
Palace took the lead on the half-hour mark, shortly after Jean-Philippe Mateta missed a chance to put the hosts ahead, when Lerma managed to break free from a quartet of falling bodies and was beating and patiently took a few steps forward before exploding. the ball high into the net from 25 yards.
Former Eagles loanee Gallagher, who scored the winner in the October 2022 edition of this match, fired wide of Dean Henderson’s left post before the break, through which the Blues had completed 420 passes but had not recorded a shot on target.
The second half got off to a late start after referee Michael Oliver encountered technical problems, with the stadium singing and laughing as Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds (Everything’s Gonna Be Alright)” was pointedly played during the break.
It proved to be an ironic choice when Gallagher deflected Malo Gusto’s delivery past Henderson in the 47th minute and the away team immediately began taunting the home support with their own version of the famous reggae refrain, including a emphatic “Chelsea”.
Although a livelier and more disciplined Blues team emerged in the second half, the hosts were not without chances. Thiago Silva slipped to deny Mateta and Daniel Munoz, on his first home start, tested goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic from a tight angle.
Ben Chilwell squealed after creating a good chance over the crossbar, close enough to lure Henderson into a lunge as Chelsea continued to apply pressure.
With just under 15 minutes of normal time remaining, Matheus Franca forced Petrovic into a good diving save, before Cole Palmer was denied by Henderson shortly after.
Palace survived another Chelsea free-kick and, with less than 10 minutes remaining, managed to replace Raheem Sterling, almost set up for a dangerous chance thanks to Palmer’s cross.
Both teams pushed for more and, when it looked like Palace had held on to a vital point, Palmer picked out Gallagher who, in a moment of deja vu for the home support, fired Chelsea to the 90th minute.
Any hopes of a late response from the Eagles were dashed in added time when Fernandez took his time before firing into the top left corner. Palmer again provided the assist.