Palace ended 2018 with a defeat at the hands of Chelsea as N’Golo Kante’s 50th minute strike proved to be enough for the Blues to win this capital clash.
The Frenchman tucked home just after half-time which proved to be the game’s key moment, but Chelsea enjoyed the better of the chances throughout the 90 minutes which saw them hit the goalframe twice and Olivier Giroud find the net twice only to be flagged offside.
A late flurry by Palace saw a golden chance blazed over by Connor Wickham, but ultimately they failed to end their seven-year wait to end a calendar year with a victory.
Perhaps due to the fact both teams were playing their third game in eight days, the opening stages began at a glacial pace and produced nothing of note until Kante flashed a shot well wide after 17 minutes.
10 minutes after that Giroud had the ball in the net when he latched onto a dinked pass by Jorginho to blast an angled volley past Vicente Guaita, but before he could celebrate scoring another wonderful goal at the Eagles’ expense, it was rightly ruled out for offside – albeit marginally.
As the first 45 continued, the hosts continued to be content to soak up pressure but that meant their goal was the one under much more threat, and in the space of a few minutes Jorginho fired into the Holmesdale before Willian whipped a free-kick against the post. Then after the Brazilian tested Guaita from range with a 30-yard grasscutter, the same piece of woodwork was rattled again when Ross Barkley acrobatically hooked the ball against the post from the resulting corner.
Hodgson’s team would have been pleased to have kept the west Londoners at bay as they headed down the tunnel at half-time, but their resistance ended five minutes after the break when Chelsea finally found a way to edge in front.
David Luiz chipped a pass into the box and Kante made a great run to squeeze between the defensive line, and his low shot had just enough power to trickle over the line despite Guaita getting a hand to it and end a year that saw him lift the World Cup on another high.
With the lead in their back pocket, Maurizio Sarri’s team continued to probe and on 72 minutes Giroud once again produced a fine finish when he rifled the ball past Guaita but was again thwarted by the linesman’s flag, which looked a tad fortunate for the home side and to add insult to injury the striker was injured in the process and saw his afternoon end painfully and prematurely.
Sights of goal were a rarity for Palace all afternoon, but in the dying stages two arrived but were squandered. Firstly Wilfried Zaha received possession on the left and he took aim but drove over the bar, and then with two minutes remaining Luka Milivojevic pumped a long free-kick into the box which was nodded by James Tomkins to Wickham, but after doing well to bring the ball down, the striker hammered it, and his team’s chances of a point, over the top.
Palace: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt, Kouyaté (Meyer 78), Milivojevic, McArthur, Schlupp (Wickham 69), Townsend, Zaha. Subs not used: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Puncheon, Ayew.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Barkley (Kovacic 88), Willian (Emerson 82), Hazard, Giroud (Morata 76). Subs not used: Caballero, Zappacosta, Christensen, Ampadu.