Chelsea find their swagger under Hiddink to crush Crystal Palace in Premier League
Guus Hiddink celebrates his first win since taking over as interim manager of the troubled English Premier League champions
Chelsea began the new year offering signs of a revival as the English Premier League champions comfortably beat Crystal Palace 3-0 on Sunday with goals from Oscar, Willian and Diego Costa.
Guus Hiddink’s side began the day in 16th place, three points above the relegation zone after a woeful opening half of the season, but comprehensively outplayed seventh-placed Palace in torrential rain at Selhurst Park.
Hiddink is unbeaten since taking over on an interim basis following the sacking of Jose Mourinho last month, although the win at Palace was his first following draws with Watford and Manchester United over the Christmas programme.
Costa set up Oscar to side-foot Chelsea ahead after 29 minutes and Chelsea went on to play some of their best football of the season to pick apart a Palace side sorely missing the suspended Yohan Cabaye and injured Yannick Bolasie.
Willian smashed in Chelsea’s second on the hour with a thumping shot from outside the area and shortly afterwards Costa capped a hard-working performance with a close-range third goal.
Chelsea captain John Terry told Sky Sports: “This was the Chelsea of last year, the football was first class and we kept the ball in tough conditions. A near year, a new start, we just have to keep winning games now. We are delighted and it is the feeling we want.
“Guus has been great since he has come in. It was unfortunate what happened but he has come in and picked everyone up. We are, where we are, we have not dwelled on it. If we can put together a run of games who knows hopefully we can go a long way”
Hiddink said: “Everyone knows we have a lot of quality in our team, but sometimes champions have a tendency to be complacent and it can be difficult to get back and then wonder why we were champions.”
Palace offered precious little in the match and Chelsea’s only concern was an injury to Eden Hazard who limped off midway through the first half after signalling to the bench.
Chelsea’s third win in their last 11 league matches moved them up a couple of places to 14th with 23 points.