Chelsea get first win of Hiddink return by thrashing Palace
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | January 3, 2016
Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea
- Costa tees up Oscar for opener against run of play
- Zaha spurs rare sight of goal for Palace after half-time
- Willian doubles Blues’ lead on hour mark
- Eagles capitulation continues with Costa strike
- Palace stay seventh, Chelsea now well clear of danger
The Oscar goes to Blues
Chelsea moved six points and four places clear of the Premier League relegation zone, with Guus Hiddink earning an emphatic 3-0 first win of his second spell in charge at Crystal Palace. That came courtesy of Oscar’s first-half tap in, a super strike from Willian and Diego Costa’s poachers goal.
Costa, back from a ban, made the Blues’ opener at Selhurst Park, with a clever right-channel run when fed by a Cesc Fabregas through-ball. Costa then pulled back for fellow Brazilian-born player Oscar to slot home, though somewhat against the run of play.
Palace then collapsed in the second-half with Willian and Costa converting other chances to end a barren away run for the Stamford Bridge side.
Alan Pardew’s one-year anniversary since coming to the Eagles as manager was an unhappy one, but that didn’t prove all that surprising as Palace were without several forward players. They remain in contention for a top six finish.
Eagles lack cutting edge
Needing more from Wilfried Zaha in the absence of injured forward trio Yannick Bolasie, Dwight Gayle and Connor Wickham, plus suspended playmaker Yohan Cabaye, the Eagles went close through the England cap inside six minutes.
Eden Hazard limped off for Chelsea early with Pedro Rodriguez replacing him, before Fraizer Campbell screwed wide at the back-post for the hosts from an early and deep Jason Puncheon cross.
Just before half an hour, the Blues went in front with Damien Delaney’s slip on a sodden surface when trying to cut out Fabregas’ ball for Costa proving costly. Wayne Hennessey also had to parry Cesar Azpilicueta’s tight angle drive and Scott Dann nodded the loose ball behind.
Willian with wonderful second
Palace went into half-time behind for the first time in the Premier League this term, and spurned a rare opening when Campbell released Zaha, but he hesitated when pulling the trigger and shot tamely at visiting custodian Thibaut Courtois.
Chelsea doubled their advantage on the hour mark with Fabregas finding first scorer Oscar to let Willian run onto the ball and smash it past a helpless Hennessey. Little more than five minutes later, the Eagles keeper spilled Willian’s centre and Costa obliged by tapping in. He also volleyed over late on.
That third strike from Costa put this contest to bed and stretched a goalless run for Pardew’s Palace to three games; it is clear if they hold serious ambitions of challenging for a European place, then they will have to strengthen in the winter window. Coral now go 7/2 on the Eagles making a top six finish.
Could a resounding Blues victory across the capital at the high-flying Eagles be a catalyst to kick on and make a belated surge up the table?