This was likely a devastating blow for Roy Hodgson. In his 200th game as manager, Crystal Palace suffered their 13th consecutive loss in the Premier League against Chelsea. Two goals from Conor Gallagher led to a thrilling comeback victory for Mauricio Pochettino’s team.
The manager received a devastating setback, adding to an already difficult season filled with injuries and a lack of success, with only two wins in their last 14 games. Despite the upcoming challenge of facing Everton, a team they have not defeated in their previous seven encounters and currently sit in the bottom relegation position, Hodgson’s team cannot catch a break. In contrast, Pochettino’s team had a different outcome as they secured a victory in extra time with a third goal from Enzo Fernández.
This marked an incredible comeback following a lackluster first half for Chelsea. Despite having possession and allowing a stunning goal from Jefferson Lerma, they were unable to make any shots on target. However, they can count on Gallagher, who previously scored eight goals while on loan at Palace and has now scored four in six matches against them.
Hodgson had expressed that Palace’s current situation is the most challenging time of his career due to the fans’ strong backlash against the team. As they kicked off, home supporters held up a series of banners, one of which criticized the club’s weak culture and direction. This was not an ideal situation for Hodgson.
One of the main criticisms of the 76-year-old has been his reluctance to give young players on Palace’s team a chance. However, in this instance, Matheus França and Adam Wharton demonstrated their determination and resilience on their first full appearances, winning over the support of the crowd. Pochettino chose to start Cole Palmer as a false 9 and Nicolas Jackson on the left wing, while Gallagher returned to the stadium where he had a successful loan spell two years ago. Despite these changes, neither team was able to improve their lackluster attack on a cold evening in south London.
Thirteen of Palace’s 26 league goals this season have been scored or created by the injured Eberechi Eze or Michael Olise but Wharton showed his ability on his first full start since joining from Blackburn with a raking ball that almost played in Jean-Philippe Mateta. The French forward should have done better when he robbed the ball off Axel Disasi from a Chelsea throw-in but could only direct his shot straight at Djordje Petrovic.
Lerma answered the call for a lift in this game. He took advantage of Tyrick Mitchell’s strong defense, making a double tackle on Noni Madueke and Moisés Caicedo. However, Chelsea was unhappy with Lerma’s foul on the Ecuadorian midfielder before scoring a goal from 25 yards away. The crowd at Selhurst Park erupted in celebration against their London rivals, breaking a losing streak that dates back to October 2017 with a winning goal from Wilfried Zaha.
Although he is no longer here, Palace maintained a strong presence on the field despite their previous struggles. Pochettino seemed unfazed as his team failed to generate any chances, while Palace remained a constant threat. By halftime, they had only managed one shot – a wide attempt by Gallagher – despite holding possession for nearly 80% of the time. Chelsea could have faced even more trouble if the referee, Michael Oliver, had not overlooked Thiago Silva’s apparent shove on Daniel Muñoz inside the penalty area.
During a delay in the second half caused by technical problems for Oliver, both groups of supporters sang along to Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. This seemed to motivate Chelsea’s team as Gallagher quickly scored a goal from Malo Gusto’s pass, bringing the score level and restoring a sense of normalcy. Kind of.
Chelsea displayed a revitalized offensive strategy with Christopher Nkunku as their halftime substitute, as Palmer missed his shot from a Gusto cross. Mateta’s attempt from a pass by França was stopped by Silva after a last-minute challenge from the experienced Brazilian, marking the end of his game.
Petrovic was forced to stay on high alert as he deflected França’s long-distance shot around the goal post. Palmer also could not score from a difficult angle, despite a skillful exchange with Gusto. Mateta was unsuccessful in his attempt to draw a penalty after being taken down by Levi Colwill. However, in the first minute of stoppage time, Gallagher delivered a game-changing goal from Palmer’s pass, causing Chelsea’s ecstatic fans to celebrate late into the night.