Alvaro Morata scored twice to sink Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge and help lift Chelsea above Liverpool into second spot in the Premier League table.
Andros Townsend’s superb low finish had cancelled out a Chelsea lead given to them by Spanish forward Morata’s clever shot-on-the-turn.
Palace’s hopes of securing a crucial point vanished when they conceded two goals in five second-half minutes.
Substitute Eden Hazard marked his return from a back injury by delivering the free-kick for Morata to fire his second before Pedro put the game out of Palace’s reach.
While unbeaten Chelsea stay two points behind leaders Manchester City, Palace remain three points above the relegation zone after a seventh defeat in 11 league games.
Hazard inspires Blues on return
The headlines will be about Morata – the former Real Madrid and Juventus forward has now scored five Premier League goals plus another in the Europa League this season.
Yet the return of Hazard added much needed energy and flair to a team that had struggled to open up Palace in the opening hour.
Having missed the previous three league and cup games with a back injury, the Belgian made up for lost time. He replaced Willian in the 64th minute with the score locked at 1-1.
Ninety-one seconds after his introduction, Chelsea were back in the lead after Palace’s defence failed to deal with Hazard’s free-kick into box allowing Morata to drill home.
Five minutes later it was 3-1, Pedro – who had delivered the pass for Morata to break the deadlock in the first half – with an unstoppable finish after Marcos Alonso’s low cross.
Since arriving in the summer of 2017, Morata has struggled to convince his critics he is a consistent goal source for Chelsea.
Yet his tireless performance against Palace could well win him a few more admirers even though he missed a chance to complete his hat-trick in the closing stages after being sent clean through by Hazard.
More to follow.
Article credit: https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/46007193