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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Chelsea close in on UEFA Champions League spot after winning at Crystal Palace

Chelsea kept up their push for a top four finish in the 2019/2020 English Premier League (EPL) and 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League football with a 3-2 victory on Tuesday.

They beat London rivals Crystal Palace with goals from Olivier Giroud, Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham.

Chelsea moved into third, leapfrogging Leicester City who were visiting Arsenal later on Tuesday, to stand five points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United, who visit Aston Villa on Thursday.

Crystal Palace stay 15 points clear of the relegation zone.

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side went ahead in the seventh minute when former Blues defender Gary Cahill pulled up with an injury.

It gave Willian all the time he needed to cut the ball back for an easy finish by French striker Giroud.

The visitors doubled their lead 20 minutes later as Willian fed Pulisic on the edge of the penalty box.

The American shrugged off his marker Joel Ward to fire a fierce angled shot past goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Chelsea looked in complete control and only a fine save by Guaita prevented Willian from adding a third goal after Pulisic burst through the Crystal Palace lines.

But the visitors, who threw away a lead to lose another London derby at West Ham United last week, allowed Crystal Palace back into the game in the 34th minute.

That was when defender Reece James misplaced a pass and Wilfred Zaha fired a powerful shot past surprised goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

In the 71st minute, substitute Abraham seemed to have wrapped up the win for Chelsea when he fired a low shot in off the post after being set up by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

But Crystal Palace hit back within a minute when Patrick Van Aanholt got to the byline and squared for Christian Benteke to tap the ball in.

Crystal Palace defender Scott Dann hit the post in added time as the posts pushed for an equaliser and only a last-ditch tackle by Kurt Zouma denied Benteke.(Reuters/NAN)


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