Chelsea 2 Crystal Palace 0
Tammy Abraham’s 11th goal of the season set Chelsea on their way to a sixth consecutive Premier League win in a one-sided game at Stamford Bridge.
A dominant Blues struggled to find the breakthrough against a packed Crystal Palace defence before the break, despite Willian and Christian Pulisic posing problems throughout.
But Abraham calmly slipped the ball past keeper Vicente Guaita to open the scoring soon after the break following a delightful flick from captain for the day Willian.
And Pulisic made it 2-0 with 12 minutes remaining, heading home from close range when the ball broke kindly to the American following a well-worked move.
The win takes Chelsea above Manchester City and into second place, prior to City’s match against leaders Liverpool on Sunday.
A Chelsea victory never looked in serious doubt, although James Tomkins headed wide from a set-piece with Palace’s only clear opportunity when they briefly threatened after Abraham’s strike.
A bright start saw the excellent Willian almost open the scoring with a 20-yard free-kick that went narrowly wide and he went even closer in first-half injury-time with a shot that was deflected wide by former Blues defender Gary Cahill.
In between, the lively Pulisic also saw an effort well smothered by Guaita after a classy run while Reece James, who was preferred at right-back to the dropped Cesar Azpilicueta, sent in several dangerous crosses. The best of those led to the confusion which almost resulted in Willian netting in the dying moments.
Mateo Kovacic was involved in the build-up when Chelsea went ahead, but it was Willian’s classy touch that put Abraham through.
Palace’s briefly responded but Kovacic’s fine cross-field pass ended up with Pulisic nodding in the second when substitute Michy Batshuayi’s blocked effort landed nicely.
Further chances came Chelsea’s way, with Pulisic, Batshuayi and Willian all going close.
Chelsea: Kepa, James, Tomori, Zouma, Emerson, Kante, Kovacic, Mount [Gilmour 87], Willian, Pulisic [Hudson-Odoi 80], Abraham [Batshuayi 73].
Subs not used: Caballero, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Giroud.