Crystal Palace earned their first points of the Premier League season on Saturday afternoon, stunning champions Chelsea in an enthralling 2-1 victory at Selhurst Park.
Palace took the lead in the 11th minute, with César Azpilicueta helpless to avoid diverting Yohan Cabaye’s bundling effort past Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois to score an own goal. The Blues pulled a goal back in the 18th minute – Tiémoué Bakayoko powering a header into the net from a Cesc Fàbregas corner.
Wilfried Zaha put his side back in front just before half-time, poking home from close-range after bamboozling the Chelsea back-line. The visitors seemed bereft of confidence and cohesive attacking play, while the Eagles fed off the electric home atmosphere to hold on for a famous win over their London rivals.
The home side almost got off to the perfect start, after Townsend’s darting run tied Blues defender David Luiz in knots, finding Zaha in the box whose solid effort drew a smart save from Courtois. Palace looked to take the game to the visitors, hurtling towards Antonio Conte’s side with confident, attacking movement.
Palace’s positive play soon drew dividends – Andros Townsend burst down the wing, fired a cross across the face of goal which bounced off Luiz and into the path of Cabaye, before flying past Courtois via Azpilicueta’s knee for an own goal. The Blues were rattled, with the cauldron-like atmosphere clearing troubling Conte’s side.
Chelsea began to find a foothold in the game, and they didn’t have to wait long before finding the equaliser. In the 18th minute, Fabregas beautifully floated corner was seized upon by Bakayoko, who outfoxed his marker Patrick van Aanholt to power a header beyond Julián Speroni. The game was ignited, with Palace clearly unwilling to let the Blues boss the play.
Townsend continued to cause Chelsea all kinds of problems, and bent a viciously curling shot agonisingly wide of Courtois’ post.
The hosts then reclaimed the lead on the stroke of half-time, as Mamadou Sakho superbly bullied the ball off Willian, before passing to Zaha, who held off to Chelsea defenders to poke a perfectly guided effort into the bottom-right corner.
Chelsea came out with a look of serious intent in the second half, and Fàbregas clipped the crossbar with a 25-yard strike that caught Speroni well off-guard. Palace held strong, the combination of Zaha and Townsend continued to terrorise the shaky looking Chelsea backline.
The Blues began to look frustrated, with Palace thwarting their attacking endeavours superbly.
Antonio Conte’s side pressed hard for an equaliser with a trio of chances – substitute Charly Musonda volleyed over the bar, before Marcus Alonso’s header was clawed out by Speroni. Moments later Eden Hazard almost got on the end of a teasing Davide Zappacosta cross.
The home side held on for a famous win, chalking up their first points of the season as well as their first goals. Roy Hodgson’s side will see the result as a real platform to build upon, as his team embarks on the unenviable mission of escaping relegation to the Championship this season.