Chelsea 2 Crystal Palace 1
Willian’s deflected drive and a Martin Kelly own goal was enough for Chelsea to return to winning ways in the Premier League.
Brazilian Willian found the breakthrough on 25 minutes, cutting in off the left flank and firing in a low shot which took a slight touch off James Tomkins and went in via the inside of the near post.
The lead was doubled shortly afterwards when Davide Zappacosta’s shot hit Kelly, then ricocheted off goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and back on to Kelly’s left thigh before nestling into the net.
Palace’s Alexander Sorloth and Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud both hit the post, before former Blue Patrick van Aanholt grabbed a consolation late on.
Chelsea’s victory – only their third in their last nine league games – keeps the pressure up on fourth-placed Tottenham, who face Bournemouth on Sunday.
The first goal owed everything to Willian’s burst of pace and direct shooting – he had already had two daisy-cutters saved by Hennessey – and while the second was the result of a huge chunk of good fortune, it came after a glorious build up.
Marcos Alonso’s ball across the edge of the box was dummied by Willian, Eden Hazard then opened his body to find Zappacosta, who was rewarded with the triple deflection.
Palace – whose only attempt on goal in the first half was an Andros Townsend effort which just cleared the bar – looked brighter after the introduction of the fit-again Wilfried Zaha at the break.
Sorloth should have scored after Andreas Christensen’s error but managed to strike the near post.
At the other end, Chelsea failed to find a third – Willian had a shot blocked by the brave James Tomkins and a free-kick turned away by Hennessey, who also denied Hazard.
And van Aanholt set up a tense finish when he slid the ball under Courtois in the 90th minute.
Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Zappacosta, Kante, Fabregas (Bakayoko 88), Alonso; Willian, Giroud (Morata 72), Hazard (Pedro 88).
Subs not used: Caballero, Ampadu, Emerson, Moses.