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Crystal Palace 1-4 Chelsea
by Gene Sylvester
KAI HAVERTZ produced a masterful performance as he helped inspire his Chelsea side to one of their most impressive performances of the season so far under Thomas Tuchel.
An emphatic first-half performance saw the West Londoners blow away the home side, cruising to a 3-0 lead within 30 minutes as they eventually ran out 4-1 winners against a deflated Palace side.
Following a two-minute silence to mark the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh on Friday, it took the visitors seven minutes to open their account at Selhurst Park with the only surprise being that it took them that long, such was the superiority of Chelsea during the opening period of the game.
The opening goal came following a flowing team move and good interchange between Callum Hudson Odoi and Mason Mount down the right. Mount’s initial cross was met by Christian Pulisic eight-yards out with his effort being well saved by Vicente Guaita.
But Palace failed to clear the danger and Hudson Odoi’s cute pass found Havertz in acres of space inside the Palace penalty area, allowing the Chelsea striker to turn and pick his spot with a beautiful low curling shot into the far corner of Guaita’s net.
It was only the second league goal that the Chelsea forward has scored for the club since joining in the summer and his boss Tuchel spoke candidly of the club’s summer signing after the match.
“Kai is never going to be an emotional leader. He is not the type of player to show anger in moments on the pitch, but you cannot confuse his body language. He has the quality to help the team and become an important player for Chelsea.”
This was without doubt one of the ex-Leverkusen star’s more accomplished performances in a Chelsea shirt, with the goalscorer turning provider only 10 minutes after notching his own goal.
Ben Chillwell’s pass found Havertz striding into the box and his first time cut back found Pulisic who took one touch and smashed an unstoppable shot into the roof Guiata’s net.
The growing confidence of the much maligned Havertz was showcased even further midway through the first half when he plucked a high through ball from Jorginho out of the sky, chipping the ball over the head of Patrick Van Aanholt with his first touch and then getting a volleyed strike off at goal with his second.
Guaita was equal to the effort and palmed clear, but that piece of skill from the young German was a reminder of what he possesses within his toolkit and why Chelsea invested so heavily in his services last summer.
“Havertz can play number 9 or deeper and had another chance to play better than he did against Porto. He could have scored more and could improve on his finishing,” enthused the Chelsea boss, who recorded his first win by a margin of more than two goals in the Premier League since taking over at the Bridge.
Unlikely goalscorer Kurt Zouma made it 3-0 from a Mount corner, rising above all to head home after 30 minutes and although Palace were offered hope midway through the second half courtesy of a Christian Benteke header, it was short lived as Pulisic scored his second to kill off any hopes of a Palace fightback.
Hodgson was understandably upset by the home side’s first half performance and result.
“We have enough self respect and belief in ourselves to do more than we did today. The way we approached the first half was not good enough. The second half was more like what we expected from the team.”
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