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West Ham United
March 29, 2014
• 11:00 AM
• Selhurst Park, London
Referee: L. Mason
• Attendance: 25166
J. Terry 52' (own goal)
FULL-TIME: Crystal Palace 1-0 Chelsea. It's a massive win for Tony Pulis and his side, who have held on in the face of a barrage of Chelsea attacks to seal a first win over the Blues in 13 attempts. John Terry's second-half own goal sent Selhurst Park into delirium and, with the late events at the Hawthorns, it has given Palace more than a glimmer of hope towards preserving their top-flight status. Chelsea, meanwhile, were toothless. Julian Speroni's astonishing stop from Hazard was the closest they came and their title hopes now rest on results elsewhere, having played more games than their rivals.
90' + 2'
Palace make their third and final change to take up some more time as the excellent Puncheon is removed to a rapturous applause and Jonathan Parr takes his place for some added defensive security.
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Adrian Mariappa
Chelsea continue to plug away but Palace, who bring on Glenn Murray for the closing exchanges, are repelling everything they have to offer at the moment. Mourinho looks aghast on the touchline.
HOWLER! Substitute O'Keefe so nearly costs his side in the extreme as his woeful backpass lands at the feet of Torres, who turns but cannot slip a finish past Speroni and instead, his scooped effort goes over the top.
Jedinak launches a clearance downfield and gets a fortuitous deflection which sees the ball roll out of play and hand Palace a throw-in.
Palace are defending manfully and it is represented best by the crowding out of Hazard, who has three players to beat and inevitably fails. The hosts try to launch a counter, but cannot find a way through.
WHAT A CHANCE! Palace will only have themselves to blame if they do not win here, as Ledley passes up the latest Palace opportunity by rolling the ball wide after being released by Jerome.
O'Keefe forces Cech into another commendable save as his first-time effort from the edge of the area forces the Chelsea keeper to tip over, in a slightly unorthodox fashion, left-handed.
Dann goes into the book for hauling down Torres, but the resulting free kick from Oscar is squandered and Palace can break, with Ward leading his side downfield. The ball is eventually worked out to Puncheon on the right but the winger sends a stinging shot straight at Cech.
Yellow Card Scott Dann
Another chance for Palace, as Ledley connects with a crossfield ball on the volley left footed, but his searing strike fizzes wide of Cech's far post. Chelsea head up the other end quickly, but Matic's speculative volley is wild and fails to trouble Speroni.
POST! An incisive pass through the heart of the Chelsea defence finds Jerome, who skips clear of the visitors' rearguard, but can only slam against the base of the post.
WHAT A SAVE! Speroni does it once again with a stunning reflex save to deny Chelsea, with Hazard the latest to be frustrated by the Palace stalwart. The ball ricochets kindly for the Blues man, who curls towards the far corner, but Speroni is at full stretch to push the ball away to safety.
Both sides make one change apiece as Mourinho adds Demba Ba to the attacking ranks while Pulis, conversely, looks for some midfield solidity and brings on Stuart O'Keefe to beef up his numbers in the middle third.
The introduction of Oscar has completely revitalised the Chelsea attack, with all of their forward play being orchestrated by the Brazilian. He has the latest shot on goal, but Speroni is equal to it once more.
Salah tees up Oscar for a second bite at the cherry, but his strike is a poor one and goes out for a goal kick.
Oscar goes close to an equaliser as he whips his free-kick over the wall but also beyond Speroni's crossbar.
SO CLOSE! Palace could, and perhaps should, be 2-0 up. Jerome and Puncheon team up nicely for the latter to advance on goal, but he snatches at his finish and it flashes just wide of the far post.
Chelsea fashion a corner but the delivery from Schurrle is poor and easily cleared, with Palace camping themselves in and around their own area at present.
Mourinho looks to inject some much-needed attacking urgency into his side's play by introducing Mohamed Salah for Lampard, who has been on the fringes of the game.
Two half chances for the visitors as they look to find an equaliser, with Torres firing wide from Schurrle's cutback before Ivanovic skies his effort.
WHAT A SAVE! Chelsea are thwarted by an outstanding save from Julian Speroni as he sprawls across goal to tip away Hazard's venomous effort and preserve his side's lead.
Own Goal John Terry
GOAL! Palace lead and it's an own goal from Chelsea skipper John Terry! Ward atoned for his error by skipping away down the left and supplying a sumptuous cross which Terry somehow managed to divert beyond his own goalkeeper to send Selhurst Park into raptures.
Ward's poor clearance falls straight to Nemanja Matic, who finds Torres. The Spaniard curls a shot goalwards, but it is well wide of the far post.
Bolasie is immediately looking to get at Ivanovic once more but cannot force a cross and Chelsea eventually clear their lines.
Chelsea make a sub at half-time as Oscar replaces Luiz, who has a reported ankle injury. Palace get us back underway, meanwhile. Can they secure what would be an invaluable win for their battle against relegation, or will the Blues prevail?
HALF-TIME: Crystal Palace 0-0 Chelsea. The main talking point of the first half was a penalty shout for the home side after Cahill's rash-looking challenge on Bolasie. Otherwise, it has been a largely even opening period, with Hazard unable to weave his magic. Schurrle went the closest for the visitors but Bolasie was even nearer to breaking the deadlock at the other end, prodding into the side netting.
Chelsea looking to build a head of steam as we approach two additional minutes at the end of this even first half.
Bolasie works it well on the far side again, teasing Ivanovic into a tackle but Kagisho Dikgacoi's cross is wayward. As is Luiz's finish on the counter, slamming a shot high into the stands.
Chances at either end in quick succession as, first, Lampard flights a free-kick to the back post where Torres meets it, but the striker's effort sails over the crossbar. Palace attack and engineer an opening of their own seconds later through Puncheon, but he too can only manage to fire over.
Palace earn a corner as Cahill clears from in front of Ledley. The following delivery falls for Jedinak on the edge of the area but his volleyed effort is caught by Cech.
Joel Ward gives away a free-kick in midfield after an over-zealous challenge on Schurrle, with the Palace defender too keen to nip the ball away from the German.
Hazard shows a neat turn of pace to jink his way to the byline and lift the ball across goal, but Delaney does excellently to react by running to the near post and clearing the danger.
John Terry handles outside the area and gifts a free-kick to Palace right on the edge of the Chelsea area. Jedinak's set piece is powerful but is also straight at Cech.
Yellow Card John Terry
PENALTY?! Another potential spot-kick is waved away by Mason as Cahill races back to catch Bolasie and appears to get more of the man than the ball. Pulis again looks furious at another decision that has not fallen his side's way.
PENALTY?! More lovely wing play sees Mariappa skip inside Azpilicueta and pull the ball back for Jerome, who appeared to be clipped by Gary Cahill. Pulis is incensed on the touchline, but referee Mason is not interested in the Palace protests.
SIDE NETTING! Bolasie goes even closer but this is a much more difficult chance as Puncheon's vicious cross across the face of goal comes at him too quickly and he can only stretch out a boot and knock the ball into the side netting and not the back of Petr Cech's goal.
Bolasie embarks on a mazy run past Ivanovic but his final effort is a poor one, as he drags a right-foot shot well wide of the near post.
Another foul by a Palace defender as Delaney comes scything through Torres as the Spaniard looked to turn away from his marker. Mourinho does not look the slightest bit impressed by Pulis' side's combative tactics.
Both Palace wingers are now in the book after Puncheon goes flying in on Azpilicueta late after the ball had gone and receives a yellow. Torres wants a penalty moments later, but the appeals are waved away by Lee Mason.
Yellow Card Jason Puncheon
CHANCE! So, so close for Schurrle, who really should have given Chelsea the lead. Hazard and Cesar Azpilicueta combine brilliantly down the left to free the Spaniard, whose fierce drive across the goalmouth can only be prodded wide by Schurrle, who was under pressure from Damien Delaney. The German has scored seven goals in his 10 Premier League starts this season.
Bolasie tricks his way to the byline and whips a delightful ball into the area, but Chelsea's resolute backline deal with the danger once more, comfortably heading away.
Luiz initially looks to be struggling and is taken off for treatment on the touchline but is no sooner back into the action to divert Puncheon's teasing centre away.
Yellow Card Y. Bolasie
CHANCE! Poor defending from Crystal Palace allows Ivanovic's long throw to bounce in the penalty area and land at the feet of Torres, but he cannot quite get a meaningful contact on the ball and it skews away for a corner off a Palace body. From the subsequent set piece, Palace break through Puncheon, but the ball spins away and Yanick Bolasie collects a yellow card for flooring Luiz.
Eden Hazard has the first tangible opening for Chelsea as he collects Branislav Ivanovic's cut-back but the Belgian can only fire high and wide.
Chelsea have struggled to get going so far, a long ball towards Schurrle on the far side epitomises their early struggles. Palace are equally slack in possession moments later, however, as Mile Jedinak gifts the ball back to the visitors.
Chelsea are content to keep the ball in and around their own penalty area and, when Palace do regain possession, they quickly relinquish it once more as Cameron Jerome allows a throw-in to bounce over his head and out for a goal kick. The Palace striker has not scored in his last 13 games.
Palace work a cleverly-crafted opening down the right flank as Adrian Mariappa feeds Jason Puncheon. The latter's cross was well defended agaisnt, however, and Chelsea were able to clear.
Palace show their battling qualities from the outset and look to unsettle the Chelsea backline, with Joe Ledley hassling and harrying David Luiz, but the Brazilian wins a free-kick for his side.
Chelsea get us underway here at Selhurst Park, where it is baked in sunshine.
We are now just moments away from kick off at Selhurst Park.
With Eto'o out and potentially also sidelined for the midweek trip to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, could the recalled Torres finally fire again in front of goal? His two most recent league goals have come on the road, at Southampton and Hull City respectively.
STAT: Chelsea have won the last five meetings in forming a 12-match unbeaten streak against Palace in the league (W8, D4).
But, then again, each of the trio were blown away by Chelsea's attacking riches. The form book alone indicates a routine away victory but at this stage of the season, either manager will settle for any sort of win this afternoon.
For his side's lack of firepower, Pulis has at the very least organised the defence well. Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester United have all found the going tough in trying to break down their resolute defensive setup in recent time.
Palace need to make sure they remain in the game through to the last quarter as a minimum requirement. A draw would act as a significant boost going into the upcoming must-win clashes with Cardiff and Aston Villa.
Jose Mourinho's side is also beginning to flourish at the other end too. Arsenal and Tottenham were lamentable against them, but some of Chelsea's football in scoring 10 goals across the back-to-back derbies was delightful.
Reversing that trend will not come easily against a Chelsea defence that has conceded just eight goals in their last 20 games and has the best defensive record in the top flight. Petr Cech has been back to his most confident behind a back four superbly marshalled by John Terry.
Pulis will rightfully be concerned, however, that his side have failed to win in five matches and, more pertinently, that they haven't scored from open play in over eight and a half hours. The Eagles are the most shot-shy outfit in the division this season, having scored just 19 league goals.
Tony Pulis has done superbly in getting his Palace charges to a competitive level since he took the reins at Selhurst Park after the woeful start of nine defeats in their opening 10 games back in the top flight under Ian Holloway.
In their ultimately doomed relegation struggles of 1993 and 1995, the Eagles held Chelsea to draws during the springtime, but they'll need to raise their game tenfold to get even a point this time.
The Blues' lacklustre performance in defeat to Aston Villa recently is testament to that as Mourinho's side simply failed to turn up and were dealt a blow to their title challenge courtesy of Fabian Delph's late strike.
Manchester City's midweek win over neighbours Manchester United means leaders Chelsea can now afford no slip ups in the run-in. History would suggest dropped points in this one is an unlikely scenario but Palace are scrapping for their lives, so an upset cannot be ruled out.
Chelsea Substitutes: Hilario, Kalas, Mikel, Willian, Salah, Oscar, Ba.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Lampard, Luiz, Matic; Schurrle, Torres, Hazard.
Crystal Palace Substitutes: Hennessey, Parr, McCarthy, O'Keefe, Bannan, Ince, Murray.
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward; Dikgacoi, Jedinak; Puncheon, Ledley, Bolasie; Jerome.
Palace are unchanged this afternoon from the side that lost late on to Newcastle last week while Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho makes two changes to his XI, with Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres coming in for Oscar, who is benched and Samuel Eto'o who is out with a hamstring injury.
Good afternoon and welcome to this LIVE commentary of a match which could have a major bearing on the final outcome at both ends of the table as Crystal Palace meet Chelsea. My name is Tom Marshall-Bailey and I will be bringing you all the latest updates from Selhurst Park.
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