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Match Reports

Match Report : 14/12/2013

14 December 2013

Palace came so close to grabbing an unexpected draw at Stamford Bridge with a superb display against Chelsea but came up just short in their attempts to earn what would have been a fully-justified point.

Despite falling behind to a Fernando Torres goal the Eagles fought back and Marouane Chamakh netted his third goal in as many games, but a quick-fire response from Ramires ultimately was enough to win the points for the home side in a pulsating end-to-end encounter.

Looking much more organised at the back, the Eagles began well and restricted Chelsea to just one pot-shot when Ramires shot straight at Julian Speroni from distance, but their resilience was ended seconds later.

Willian picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and was allowed to gradually cut inside before letting fly from a more central position, and whilst a fully-stretched Speroni did well to tip the ball onto the post, he couldn't react quick enough to prevent Torres from tapping in the rebound.

The Blues' lead was nearly doubled six minutes later when a neat bit of skill from Eden Hazard allowed Branislav Ivanovic the opportunity to drive into the area and take aim but his shot whistled past the post, and Michael Essien fell to the same fate not long after.

Tony Pulis was forced into an early change when Staurt O'Keefe replaced the limping Kagisho Dikgacoi but the switch didn't seem to effect Palace and they levelled the game up on the half-hour mark. Jason Punchon found Joel Ward out wide and he whipped a dangerous delivery into the area which the rejuvenated Chamkah finished with aplomb to send the travelling Eagles fans into delirium.

But the parity only lasted four minutes. Willian fed Hazard who ghosted into the area and teed up the waiting Ramires who took a touch before placing the ball into the top corner with a fine finish from the edge of the area, leaving Speroni helpless and handing Jose Mourinho's men the half-time advantage.

Not long after the restart Juan Mata should have done better when the energetic Willian pulled the ball back into his path but he shanked well wide, Cameron Jerome drilled an effort just over the bar and Jason Puncheon forced Petr Cech into an awkward save as the Eagles searched for a second equaliser.

They nearly grabbed it when Puncheon sent a free-kick into the area and Damien Delaney dived to head it towards the target but it was unfortunately straight at Cech, and the same man delivered again for Yannick Bolasie to head towards goal on the hour mark but he saw it fly over the bar.

The Eagles had their illustrious opponents on the ropes for the majority of the half and with 13 minutes to go carved out two fantastic chances. Great attacking play by Jerome allowed him square  for O'Keefe who looked destined to score but Cech produced a wonder-save from close range before the Blues defence scrambled the ball away, and Delaney again went close with a header which flew fractionally wide from a corner.

It looked as though Chelsea were going to wrap the game up when a fortunate ricochet allowed Ramires to go one-on-one with Speroni but with two attackers with him he attempted to square the ball but mis-kicked and Speroni pounced on the chance,  and the keeper produced heroics again with a double save from Andre Schurrle and Demba Ba as time ticked away.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Azpilicueta, Essien, Ramires, Willian (Schurrle 81), Mata (Oscar 62), Hazard, Torres (Ba 84). Subs not used: Schwarzer, Cole, Lampard, Eto'o

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Delaney, Gabbidon, Ward, Jedinak, Dikgacoi (O'Keefe 26), Bannan (Bolasie 49), Puncheon, Chamakh (Gayle 88), Jerome. Subs not used: Price, Parr, Williams, Campana.

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