MICHAEL Essien struck the only goal of the game on the hour as Chelsea enjoyed a pre-season victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Slovenian international midfielder Aleksander Radosavljevic, who played three games for his country at the World Cup, started for the Eagles.

Veteran Italian midfielder Davide Baiocco was also given a chance to impress by George Burley, as was Anthony Ouasfane.

Palace were almost gifted a second minute lead when Darren Ambrose’s cross was deflected behind by Patrick Van Aanholt, although it could just as easily found the back of the net.

Daniel Sturridge had Chelsea’s first real chance on five minutes when he headed over from a corner.

Franco Di Santo fired wide midway through the first half from six yards, although Adam Barrett should take great credit for putting him under pressure.

Neil Danns launched an ambitious volley from 35 yards which sailed wide but Chelsea should have taken the lead seconds later when Essien’s stunning volley from the edge of the area cannoned back off the bar.

Petr Cech was replaced by Ross Tunrbull after only 32 minutes, the first of many substitutions to come.

Alex’s 36th minute free-kick was blocked by the Palace wall before Ambrose just failed to make a decent connection with Andy Dorman’s flick on.

Ambrose fired a free-kick from the left of area just wide three minutes before the interval and both sides went in level at the midway point.

Sturridge and Jeffrey Bruma both wasted chances to put the visitors in front early in the second half but Palace survived the double scare.

Essien’s 54th minute volley was blocked and went behind for a corner as Chelsea went in search of the opener their early second half dominance probably deserved.

They didn’t have to wait much longer as the double winners finally made the breakthrough on the hour with a fine low drive from Essien after great build up play involving Sturridge and Joshua MeEachran.

Both sides immediately made several more substitutions, with Henrique Hilario becoming Chelsea’s third keeper of the game.

Burma fired a free-kick into the wall, then moments later saw a header cleared off the line before Jack Cork headed over from the resultant corner as the visitors came agonisingly close to adding a second.

Sean Scannell had an unfortunate collision with an advertising hoarding on 71 minutes, an incident which saw the substitute replaced by Kieron Cadagon.

Andrew and Cadogan both tested Hilario with shots from the edge of the area in quick succession as Palace went in search of an equaliser.

Former Eagles loanee Scott Sinclair’s 80th minute free-kick from the edge of the area hit the roof of the net with Julian Speroni at full stretch.

Wilfred Zaha released Dean Morgan in a dangerous position just inside the area but he opted to place his cross straight at Hilario instead of picking out a Palace team-mate.

But that was as good as it got for the hosts and Chelsea emerged as worthy winners.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Wright, Radosavljevic, Barrett (Davis 46), McCarthy, Ouasfane (Scannell 46, Cadogan 71), Danns (Bridcutt 75), Baiocco (N’Diaye 71), Lee (Andrew 46), Ambrose (Zaha 60), Dorman (Morgan 60). Sub not used: Price. Att: 21,345.