Conor Gallagher back to haunt Palace as Chelsea claim late win

Conor Gallagher could not celebrate his spectacular 89th minute winner to sink his former side Crystal Palace and give Graham Potter his first victory as manager of the Blues
Conor Gallagher back to haunt Palace as Chelsea claim late win

MUTED CELEBRATION: Chelsea's Conor Gallagher (centre) celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Pic: PA

CRYSTAL PALACE 1 (Edouard 7) CHELSEA 2 (Aubameyang 38, Gallagher 89) 

Conor Gallagher could not celebrate despite scoring his first goal for Chelsea, a spectacular 89th minute winner to sink his former side Crystal Palace and give Graham Potter his first victory as manager of the Blues.

Gallagher curled in a beauty from 25 yards in the dying minutes of an entertaining but controversial game at Selhurst Park, after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had earlier equalised Odsonne Edouard's opener for Palace, whose fans jeered off referee Chris Kavanagh at the final whistle.

They felt Kavanagh should have sent off Thiago Silva when the Chelsea defender's handball denied Jordan Ayew a clear goalscoring opportunity in the first half. Instead, Silva was reprieved to play on and assist the equaliser for Aubameyang, who scored his first Premier League goal for almost a year.

But the bigger story was the winning strike by Gallagher, who was Palace's player of the year while on loan at Patrick Vieira's side last season. Having replaced Kai Havertz in the 75th minute, Gallagher broke the deadlock late on to ensure Potter got a winning start in his first Premier League game as Chelsea coach, 23 days after replacing Thomas Tuchel. 

Potter made two changes from his first game in charge, a Champions League draw with Red Bull Salzburg. Ben Chilwell and Wesley Fofana replaced Marc Cucarella and Cesar Azpilicueta, while Aubameyang was making his Premier League return eight months after leaving Arsenal for Barcelona last February.

But it was Palace who made the brighter start and struck first when Edouard scored in the seventh minute. Chelsea's defending was poor throughout, as they gave the ball away to Edouard, who laid it out to Ayew on the right before powering into the penalty area. 

When Ayew's cross arrived in the six-yard area, Reece James and Fofana appeared to have it covered but Edouard ghosted between the pair and clipped a half-volley high past Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Palace's noisy supporters celebrated wildly, and were close to cheering again five minutes later when Kepa had to stop Eberechi Eze's long-range shot and then claw the follow-up effort away from Wilfried Zaha. 

The impressive Eze went close with another long shot, before the most controversial moment of the game. Silva was hustled over by Ayew 30 yards from goal, and then pulled the ball back with his hand to prevent the Ghana striker running free on goal. 

Referee Kavanagh immediately awarded a free-kick and yellow card to Silva, but there was a VAR review after vociferous protests from Palace's players and supporters. Kavanagh decided to take no further action, Silva remained on the pitch, and six minutes later set up Aubameyang for the equaliser. 

The Brazilian defender was forward on the left when James launched a huge crossfield pass from the right, and headed it across goal. It was behind Aubameyang, who had his back to goal, but he followed the ball's path across his body to swivel and hit a perfect shot into the bottom corner of goal.

It was his first goal of the season, and first in England since scoring for Arsenal against Aston Villa last October, 49 weeks ago.

The second-half brought fewer chances until that late drama. Havertz had a shot well-blocked by Cheick Doucoure, while at the opposite end, Kepa pushed away a fizzing shot from Zaha.

Potter made the decisive change with 15 minutes to go, replacing Havertz with Gallagher, and one instinctively felt the England midfielder might return to haunt his former club. So it proved in the 89th minute when he received the ball outside Chelsea's penalty area, moved it to his right and curled an unstoppable shot into the top, far corner of goal, leaving Vicente Guaita clawing at thin air.

As Chelsea's fans and players celebrated animatedly, Gallagher stood still with his arms by his side. But his goal meant three valuable points for Potter, whose side moved up to fifth place.

C PALACE 4-3-3: Guaita 6; Clyne 6 (Tomkins 43), Ward 6, Guehi 7, Mitchell 6; Olise 7, Doucoure 6 (Hughes 85), Eze 8 (Schlupp 74); Ayew 6, Edouard 7 (Mateta 85) Zaha 7. 

CHELSEA 4-3-3: Kepa 6; James 7, Fofana 6, Silva 6, Chilwell 6; Kovacic 6, Jorginho 6 (Loftus-Cheek 55), Mount 7 (Pulisic 85); Sterling 6, Havertz 6 (Gallagher 75) Aubameyang 7 (Broja 76).

Referee: Chris Kavanagh 5/10.

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