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Palace left to rue missed chances in Stamford Bridge defeat
CRYSTAL Palace missed out on a deserved point as they failed to take a number of second half chances in a frenetic game at Stamford Bridge.
Fernando Torres and Ramires scored either side of a Marouane Chamakh strike but Palace will be disappointed they did not get more from the game.
The first ten minutes saw no clear cut chances for either side as the Eagles held their own against the Europa League champions.
However a consistent spell of Chelsea pressure followed, and 16 minutes in a long range Willian effort came back off the post and Torres tapped in the rebound.
Buoyed by the goal, Chelsea dominated the next 10 minutes, with Palace struggling to get anywhere near their opponent’s penalty area.
Branislav Ivanovic missed a good opportunity when he burst into the penalty area from the right, while Michael Essein’s 25 yard drive went narrowly wide of Julian Speroni’s right-hand post.
Palace’s first shot on goal came after 27 minutes as Cameron Jerome’s strike from just outside the box was comfortably saved by Petr Cech.
Then, out of nowhere, the Eagles bagged an equaliser, Chamakh making it three goals in three games when he finished from Joel Ward’s cross.
However Palace were not level for long, and within minutes Ramires received a pass from Juan Mata before applying an excellent finish from just over 20 yards.
And the Blues could have doubled their lead on 40 minutes, a mistake from Adrian Mariappa letting Eden Hazard into the penalty area.
He teed up Willian, who could only shoot straight at Speroni.
Palace survived until half-time, but within minutes of the restart Chelsea were pushing for a third, Mata shooting just wide.
Yannick Bolasie replaced Barry Bannan on 50 minutes, and Palace immediately started to show more ambition going forward, Bolasie shooting over with his first touch.
The Eagles were not going down without a fight, and on 54 minutes Jason Puncheon forced a smart save from Cech, before Damien Delaney headed straight at the goalkeeper from Puncheon's free kick.
Puncheon was at the centre of another good Palace move on the hour-mark, but when his cross picked out the unmarked Bolasie the pacey winger could not hit the target.
As Palace ventured forwards in search of an equaliser, Oscar should have wrapped things up for Chelsea, but Speroni saved smartly with the goal at his mercy.
The last 20 minutes of the game was end to end, Stuart O’Keeffe somehow not scrambling the ball home with 15 minutes left, before Delaney headed wide from a corner.
Chelsea could have settled it again when Ramires was denied by Speroni when clean through on goal.
And with two minutes left, Andre Schurrle and Demba Ba were denied in quick succession by Speroni, before Ramires skewed wide.
In the four minutes of added time Palace failed to muster one last opportunity, but Tony Pulis will be proud of his players in what was a gutsy display.
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