Selhurst Park, London, England
Chelsea equalled their longest winning run in the Premier League after narrowly defeating London-rivals Crystal Palace 1-0 in a well-fought London Derby at Selhurst Park.
Diego Costa’s 13th league goal of the season, two minutes from the break was enough to ensure the Blues extended their lead at the top of the Premier League by nine points and extend their consecutive streak of victories to 11 matches for the first time since September 2009. However the only blemish on the Spaniard’s performance was the booking he received in the first-half, which earned him a suspension and meant he would miss the Blues’ next match against Bournemouth.
Despite the visitors dominating the early stages in the match, it was the Eagles who should have taken the lead in the 20th minute when a dangerous pull-back from Martin Kelly found Jason Puncheon, who fired a first-time effort wide when he should have at least hit the target.
In the 37th minute the hosts had another good chance when James McArthur met a Kelly cross but he headed wide.
The hosts were made to rue their missed opportunities six minutes later when a teasing pin-point delivery from César Azpilicueta was headed home by Costa to put the Blues ahead. It was also his 50th Chelsea goal.
Palace started the second-half well and went close to levelling the scores a minute into the restart, when Yohan Cabaye fired a loose ball from-range that Thibaut Courtois palmed away before gathering at the second-attempt.
Three minutes later the Blues went close to a second when Azpilicueta found N’Golo Kanté, who fired an effort from-range that stung the palms of Wayne Hennessey.
In the 66th minute the Blues went close to doubling their lead when a headed clearance from Scott Dann from a Victor Moses cross fell to Marcos Alonso, who fired an effort on the volley inches wide into the side-netting.
Three minutes later the visitors went close again when Eden Hazard pulled the ball back to substitute Cesc Fàbregas, who fired an effort on his weaker left-foot that Hennessey saved at the second-attempt.
A minute later the Eagles had a good chance when Christian Benteke controlled a cross-field pass on the chest but his effort on the volley was tame and his compatriot Courtois saved with ease.
A minute later the visitors went close when Moses pulled the ball back to Kanté but his effort was saved by Hennessey, who was forced to palm the strike away at the far-post.
Two minutes later the Blues went close again when Moses had the chance to play Hazard in, but instead delayed the pass and found Alonso, who fired a powerful effort that Hennessey palmed away.
In the 79th minute the Blues had a good chance to seal the victory when Costa was played through on-goal by Fàbregas but just as the striker was about to pull the trigger, Damien Delaney made a fine last ditch-challenge to deny the Spaniard.
Four minutes later the visitors very nearly made it two when Alonso curled a freekick that rattled against the crossbar before Gary Cahill was unable to head home the rebound under-pressure.
A minute later Fàbregas went close to adding a second when he received the ball before firing an effort that Hennessey saved with his feet although the whistle had already been blown for handball from the Spaniard.
The result meant that Chelsea remained on top of the league but now move onto 43 points, extending their lead at the top by nine points, whilst Crystal Palace remained in 16th on 15 points ahead of the rest of the weekend’s matches.