Chelsea 1 Crystal Palace 2
Joel Ward’s 81st-minute goal condemned Chelsea to a shock defeat in Jose Mourinho’s 100th home league match in charge.
The Blues, previously beaten only once in the league at Stamford Bridge under Mourinho, appeared to have been rescued by Radamel Falcao’s diving header at the near post from Pedro’s right-wing cross – the Colombian’s first goal for Chelsea.
But Ward netted less than two minutes later, heading home from close range after Yannick Bolasie’s cross had been hooked back towards the six-yard box by Bakary Sako at the far post.
The outstanding Sako had put Crystal Palace ahead midway through the second half.
Substitute Bolasie sent in a low cross from the left and Sako steered the ball past Thibaut Courtois at the second attempt after his first effort had been blocked by Cesar Azpilcueta’s sliding challenge.
Mourinho responded to the opening goal by immediately sending on Falcao and then Kenedy for his debut shortly afterwards.
Palace remained a threat, however, and Bolasie missed a chance to make it 2-0 when he sliced wide of the target after getting in front of the out-of-form Branislav Ivanovic to meet Sako’s cross.
And after Falcao levelled, the champions – still without a home win this season – switched off at the back again and were punished.
Mourinho’s side dominated spells of the game but Palace defended well, passed the ball nicely and were always dangerous on the counter-attack.
The Eagles had the best chance of the first half when a succession of tidy passes culminated in Wilfried Zaha teeing up Yohan Cabaye, who could only side-foot straight at keeper Courtois.
Chelsea did create chances and Eagles keeper Alex McCarthy produced a double save shortly before half-time, stooping to his right to block Diego Costa’s low shot and then Cesc Fabregas’ follow-up.
McCarthy was called into action again before the break, reacting quickly to keep out Nemanja Matic’s shot after the midfielder had made space for himself in the penalty area.
And a minute after opening the scoring, Sako cleared Gary Cahill’s header off the line.
Palace’s victory continues their remarkable away form.
They have won eight out of their last 10 matches on the road under boss Alan Pardew and have picked up 25 points away from home in 2015 – more than any other team in the Premier League.
Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Zouma, Azpilicueta (Kenedy 68); Matic (Loftus-Cheek 73), Fabregas; Pedro, Willian (Falcao 65), Hazard; Costa.
Subs not used: Begovic, Baba, Mikel, Remy.