Chelsea 1-2 Palace
Crystal Palace won at Stamford Bridge for the first time since 1982 and became only the second team to beat Jose Mourinho in the Premier League at home. It was a day of records and peculiar occurrences. Alan Pardew became the first manager to reach three wins against Mourinho, achieving the feat with this win and two wins during his time at Newcastle.
In terms of the peculiar, the last seven Chelsea defeats have come against managers that name begins with ‘P’ and Connor Wickham became the first player to be involved in two wins against Mourinho at the Bridge having played in Sunderland’s victory there in 2014.
During an evenly matched first half chances were at a premium. Bakary Sako forced Thibaut Courtois to save with his feet and Youhan Cabaye should have scored from inside the area after being put through by Wilfried Zaha. At the other end Alex McCarthy pulled off a superb double save to deny the ‘panto villian’ Diego Costa and then Cesc Fabregas and just before the break Nemanja Matic danced his way through the defence but his shot was tame and easily saved by the Palace stopper. Chelsea wanted a penalty for a pull on Kurt Zouma by Connor Wickham, however, it was clearly a case of ‘six of one and half a dozen of the other.’
"Moments later he would be down the other end of the pitch making it 0-1"
The visitors came racing out of the blocks at the start of the second-half and took the game to Chelsea. A host of great positions and half chances materialised but Palace could not capitalise. A team that wears the gold Premier League badges should punish teams for not taking their chances. Gary Cahill climbed highest for a corner and saw his header cleared off the line by Sako – moments later he would be down the other end of the pitch making it 0-1.
James McArthur beat Matic in the air half way in the Chelsea half and Cabaye picked up the loose ball. His first time, outside of the boot, pass released Pape Souare down the left. The full backs first time pass put Yannick Bolasie in behind Branislav Ivanovic and to the byline. Bolasie’s first time cutback found the onrushing Sako but his first time effort was block by Cesar Azpilicueta. The block went straight back into the feet of Sako and the man, who scored the winner last week against Aston Villa on his debut, found himself ten yards from goal with only the keep to beat and he made no mistakes, lifting the ball high into the net with his right. Delirium in the away end but Palace would still have 25 minutes plus stoppages to hold out – queue Chelsea onslaught.
Mourinho made three changes in quick succession in order to mount this onslaught but it did not have the desired effect and instead Palace almost made it two. Cabaye lofted a perfect ball down the line to get Sako away and the goalscorer put the ball low across to the six yard box to find his wing partner at the back post. Bolasie was too quick for Ivanovic but the Chelsea defender managed to push Bolasie in the back, enough to put him off balance and see him shoot high and wide, instead of into the gaping net.
Out of the blue the Chelsea equaliser did come. With eleven minutes left on the clock Pedro picked up the ball out wide. Seemingly the was no danger as he was hugging the touchline and Souare was in a good position, however, the man that signed from Barcelona last week curled a dream of a cross around the Senegalese international. One of Mourinho’s substitutes, Radamel Falcao, came alive in the box and for the first time since he came to England he looked like the Falcao of old. He got across the front of Damien Delaney and scored at the near post with a perfectly placed header.
The rest was to be a formality. Chelsea would step up a gear and go on to claim a winner and finally get their season up and running. Pardew’s men had other ideas, however.
"With nine minutes to go, against the Champions in a 1-1 game, the Crystal Palace full back was in the six yard box to head home the winner"
With the Chelsea fans still quietly applauding Falcao’s equaliser from their seats, substitute Bolasie picked up the ball on the left and plays a one two with Wickham. One on one with Zouma he starts to confuse the centre back by getting low and almost grazing the grass with his hand, much like he did at Anfield last season, before cutting back and delivering a dangerous cross to the far post. Sako was met the ball at the back post just after it bounced and delicately put the ball back across goal where the ball was met by the diving head of Joel Ward. With nine minutes to go, against the Champions in a 1-1 game, the Crystal Palace full back was in the six yard box to head home the winner. “And Crystal Palace are ahead again unbelievably” was the commentators choice of words and it would have echoed the sentiments of a large majority of the 3,000 Palace fans that celebrated behind the goal.
It had already been made clear that this game was not going to follow the Chelsea script and in the final nine minutes plus a top four favouring FIVE minutes of stoppage time, McCarthy was only one called into action in the Palace goal as the visitors comfortably saw out the game for a famous win in the Club’s history.
When the full time whistle sounded the roar from the travelling support was so loud that it drowned out the boos from the home fans. During the first half the Palace fans were singing “Jose is a Palace fan.” The Chelsea boss turned to look at the Palace fans and then applauded the song. When Pardew, who had just overseen his eighth away win in ten away matches since taking over from Neil Warnock, inevitably gets the England job at the end of the season, would it be worth sticking a fiver on Mourinho being the next manager at Selhurst Park?
That might just be one too many fairy tales for one day.
Man of the Match: Damien Delaney
He had his proverbial pocket full of Diego Costa. The Spanish international never had a sniff as the Irishman put in one of the great Crystal Palace defensive performances. He seems to get written off by everyone all of the time. “We need a new centre back” is a line that is being said by a Palace fan somewhere once every ten seconds. Once again, the man that joined Palace when he might have retired back in 2012 proved everyone wrong and caught the eye of Ruud Gullit in the process on Match of the Day:
“For me he was excellent. I think the way he battled against Costa was unbelievable… he had a hard time against Delaney. He said ‘you want to fight with me I am going to fight with you also’ but in a fair way and I loved it.”
Honourable mentions: Jason Puncheon was near on faultless in possession. Alex McCarthy is filling some very big boots in the Palace goal with some world class saves. Bakary Sako is making a mockery of all the clubs in the Premier League that overlooked him when he was available on a free. Yohan Cabaye, got stuck in and gave Chelsea next to no chance to hurt us through the middle of the park. Connor Wickham, held the ball up well, worked hard and linked play expertly.
Finally, Yannick Bolasie. The players all wore black armbands in memory of Yala’s father who sadly passed away this week. To come off the bench and put in a performance that swung the game in our favour allowed him to send his father off with a performance that he could be proud of. I hope the love that we gave him from the stands showed the man how much we love him here at Palace. Well played, Yannick.
Up Next: Manchester City
First we have the international break before taking on Manchester City in a top of the table clash. If we can repeat the heroics from last season at Selhurst Park and beat them again, I am lumping on us to win the league…
Come on you Palace!