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Palace left Mad-ueke as Noni hits the spot

Noni Madueke celebrates 88th minutes penalty goal against Crystal Palace

Noni Madueke celebrates 88th minutes penalty goal against Crystal Palace

Chelsea moved into the top half of the Premier League table with a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace, as Noni Madueke’s late penalty sealed a third consecutive league win at Stamford Bridge for the first time since October 2022.

Palace have endured a torrid time against the Blues in recent years, but you wouldn’t have known that by the way Roy Hodgson’s men began the contest in West London. The Eagles were pressing well whilst passing the ball around with confidence, and they could have broken the deadlock when Eberechi Eze’s free-kick sailed just wide of the right post. This was Chelsea’s youngest-ever PL starting line-up with an average age of 23 years and 21 days, and they marked that milestone with a wonderfully-crafted goal just shy of the quarter-hour mark. Malo Gusto kick-started the move with a superb turn in midfield and darted down to the left flank, brilliantly teeing up Mykhailo Mudryk for an excellent first-time finish.

Christopher Nkunku was also having a productive first half, but agonisingly scuffed his close-range finish from Nicolas Jackson’s pass. The Frenchman was involved in the thick of the action again moments later with a terrific cross-field ball towards Gusto, who in turn teed up Ian Maatsen to fire wide. But for all of Chelsea’s hard work, they were undone by a man widely linked with a summer move to Stamford Bridge. Michael Olise restored parity with an effortlessly nonchalant finish, expertly chesting down Jordan Ayew’s excellent pass and smashing a left-footed strike beyond Đorđe Petrović in first-half stoppage time.

The tide of this absorbing contest was swinging back in favour of Palace, as Eze came close with another set-piece before Jean-Philippe Mateta turned past Benoît Badiashile on the right flank and saw his subsequent strike saved by Petrović. Mauricio Pochettino would have been frustrated with his side’s comparatively sluggish second-half performance, but Jackson should have restored their lead in a one-on-one with Dean Henderson and fired wide with the goal gaping. It looked as if Jackson had atoned for that horrible miss with a clinical first-time finish from Thiago Silva’s cross, yet VAR ruled out the goal for offside, summing up his frustrating Blues career to date.

However, Palace’s hard graft in the second half looked to be overturned when referee Michael Salisbury was called over to the pitchside monitor and pointed to the spot after Eze brought down substitute Madueke in the box. Madueke stepped up and calmly sent Henderson the wrong way, as a palpable sense of relief engulfed Stamford Bridge. The spot-kick proved to be decisive, leaving Pochettino’s side in 10th in the table whilst consigning the Eagles to a 13th consecutive defeat in all competitions against Chelsea. Meanwhile, the statistics are not all positive for the Blues, who have now conceded 59 PL goals in 2023 – their most in the history of the division.

 

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