The 2-1 win meant Chelsea extended their unbeaten streak to 13 games over Crystal Palace despite recording their 59th conceded goal n 2023; the most by the club since participating in the EPL.
Stamford Bridge witnessed a clash of former club prodigies, with goals from both sides.
Michael Olise punished his former club Chelsea but it was substitute Noni Madueke, a rejected Palace academy player, who stole the show with a VAR-awarded penalty in the 89th minute, caused ironically by Olise.
The 2-1 victory extended Chelsea’s unbeaten streak against Crystal Palace to 13 games, despite conceding their 59th goal of 2023, the most in the club’s Premier League history.
The hosts struck first in the 13th minute through Mykhaylo Mudryk, tapping in Malo Gusto’s cross.
However, Olise equalized for Palace just before halftime.
Tactical twists and VAR drama
Following their Christmas Eve defeat to Wolves, Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino made five changes, including a first start for stand-in captain Conor Gallagher since his red card against Brighton in December.
Despite Chelsea fielding the youngest-ever Premier League starting XI (23 years, 21 days) since 2017, the game was a rollercoaster of tactical adjustments and VAR interventions.
Early possession for Palace threatened, but Chelsea’s Mudryk countered, leading to a close miss from Maatsen.
In the 13th minute, Chelsea broke the deadlock with a Nkunku-Gusto-Mudryk combination play.
Palpable tension filled the air as chances came and went. Gusto denied Palace an equalizer with a vital clearance, while Mudryk missed two opportunities to double Chelsea’s lead.
Jackson, too, faced frustration, missing a screamer and having a goal disallowed by VAR.
At the cusp of the first half, Olise got an equalizer for the visitors.
However, the drama peaked in the 89th minute. Olise’s foul on Madueke, reviewed by VAR, resulted in a penalty. Madueke, a former Palace academy player, stepped up and coolly converted, sending Chelsea back into the lead and silencing the Eagles.
Wolves Devour Bees in Brentford Blitz
Elsewhere, Wolves, buoyed by their Christmas Eve win, hunted down Brentford at their home ground. They devoured the Bees with a 4-1 victory, extending Brentford’s winless streak to four games.
Two quickfire goals from Mario Lemina and Hee-Chan Hwang in the first quarter-hour set the tone.
Yoane Wissa briefly threatened a comeback, but Hwang and Jean-Ricner Bellagarde secured the win for Wolves, extending their unbeaten run against Brentford to four games.
In the night’s last game, Manchester City came from behind to beat Everton 3-1 at the Goodison Park.