Zaha marks his return from injury with dazzling display as Roy Hodgson claims first win as Palace boss as strugglers shock Antonio Conte’s men
WILFRIED ZAHA returned from injury to inspire Palace to their first points of the season.
An own goal from Cesar Azpilicueta was cancelled out by Tiemoue Bakayoko’s first Premier League goal, before Zaha struck the winner, as all the goals came in the first half.
Palace hadn’t scored in their seven League matches this season but they took just 11 minutes to put that right – even if the last man to get a touch was wearing a Chelsea shirt.
James McArthur played a disguised pass to Andros Townsend, who crossed from the right. David Luiz tried to hook the ball clear but it rebounded against Yohan Cabaye, and on its way towards the goal it was deflected off Azpilicueta and wrong-footed Thibaut Courtois.
The Eagles’ first goal of the season had taken nearly ten-and-three-quarter hours to come, and their fans celebrated as if they had just won the League.
However, Palace’s defence had already leaked 17 goals this season, and they conceded the equaliser seven minutes later.
Cesc Fabregas sent in a corner from right, Bakayoko slipped his marker and his downward header bounced inside the near post.
The first half was edging into stoppage time when Mamadou Sakho brilliantly dispossessed Willian and fed Zaha on the left edge of the box. The talismanic striker cut inside two defenders and coolly slotted the ball inside the far post.
Palace, and in particular Townsend, had started like a train, and Zaha almost scored after only three minutes but saw his shot saved by the legs of Courtois.
Chelsea clearly missed injured duo Alvaro Morata and N’Golo Kante, who had hamstring injuries, and Victor Moses appeared to suffer the same problem when he hobbled off five minutes before the break.
Palace lived life a little dangerously after the break but Chelsea ran out of ideas, and their tactical changes had no effect after Michy Batshuayi and Willian were replaced by Pedro and Charly Musonda.
This result threw up many facts and stats, but one ominous one for Antonio Conte is that the last time Chelsea faced a side managed by Roy Hodgson they sacked their manager – after losing 1-0 to West Brom. Andre Villas-Boas was shown the door after that defeat in 2012.
Crystal Palace goalscorer Wilfried Zaha said: “We had a gameplan, worked hard and just took our chances.
“To score our first goal was just massive for the team, and to score my goal when I did after they had come back into it was great.”
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill said: “The performance today was not up to the standard it should be, for whatever reason.”
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