BY SAM SMITH
Crystal Palace suffered their fourth defeat in the last six games after being defeated 3-1 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Andros Townsend cancelled out Alvaro Morata’s goal early in the second half, but the striker got a second for the hosts before fellow Spaniard Pedro struck to leave the Eagles just three points above the Premier League relegation zone.
Chelsea dominated possession in the first 20 minutes but it was Palace who had the first big chance. The ball broke kindly for Wilfried Zaha on the right wing and he found Max Meyer free on the edge of the box, but the German failed to hit the target.
Meyer then squeezed his way into the penalty area after exchanging passes with Zaha – a partnership which showed plenty of potential – but saw his effort blocked by David Luiz.
Palace would rue those two chances as Chelsea scored with their first clear scoring opportunity on 31 minutes. James Tomkins’ headed clearance fell the way of Pedro who squared to Morata and Aaron Wan-Bissaka had given the former Real Madrid man too much room to swivel and fire beyond Hennessey from six yards.
Willian then had a goal chalked off for offside immediately after as the hosts continued to assert their authority.
The Eagles struggled in the aftermath of the goal and the initially influential Meyer began to fade – coinciding with Palace failing to threaten for the rest of the half.
However, the South Londoners were much improved in the second half and equalised with a wonderfully crafted goal on 53 minutes. Townsend received the ball 35 yards from goal, finding James McArthur and continued his run to allow the Scot to play him through with an exquisite poke. The former Tottenham man bore down on goal and clinically finished low and right-footed beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea responded by introducing Eden Hazard and Matteo Kovacic and the Belgian had an immediate impact as he was involved as the Blues regained the lead. Hazard’s clever flick led to the awarding of a free-kick, from which Morata was once more allowed too much space to control and fire across Hennessey into the bottom corner.
The game was soon out of Palace’s sight. Marcos Alonso had acres on the left-hand side to pick out Pedro who side-footed into the corner from 12 yards.
Palace continue their tough run of fixtures next Saturday at home to Spurs.