Chelsea dominated possession in the first half and looked in control of the contest, but they failed to muster any dangerous chances despite having the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech leading the attacking line. Crystal Palace decided to sit back and play on the counter, often trying to limit the ‘Blues’ while rarely risking any forays forward.
The first half was hardly captivating, but the ‘Eagles’ ended up having the best chance of the period as the HT whistle approached. Wilfried Zaha was played through to face Édouard Mendy one-on-one, albeit from a tight angle, but his effort went wide with the Senegalese goalkeeper beaten. The opening half ended with the scores level, with Chelsea seemingly the most likely to break the deadlock.
Crystal Palace were forced to make an HT substitution due to the injury of their starting goalkeeper, Vicente Guaita, with Jack Butland the man coming in to take his place. Things didn’t change much in the second half, with neither side able to create anything even remotely dangerous midway through the second half. Palace managed to even things up in terms of possession, though, and also contained Chelsea’s attacking power effectively. The visitors thought they had broken the deadlock in the 75th minute through Ziyech, but the goal was ruled out after VAR showed Lukaku to be offside in the build-up.
Ziyech was arguably Chelsea’s most dangerous player throughout, and it was he who scored the winner late on, getting on the end of a deep Marcos Alonso cross to slot beyond Butland. The three points are vital for Thomas Tuchel and Co as they look to consolidate a place in the top four, but Palace will be gutted to concede so late on against the FIFA Club World Cup champions.