Crystal Palace stun Chelsea to give chasing pack hope
Zaha and Benteke strike in shock 2-1 win at English Premier League leaders as Spurs close to within seven points of the top with 2-0 win over Burnley
Wilfried Zaha rocked Chelsea as Crystal Palace breathed new life into the English Premier League title race with a stunning 2-1 win over the leaders at Stamford Bridge yesterday.
In a frantic start, the Ivory Coast winger cancelled out Cesc Fabregas’s opener and teed up Christian Benteke for the winner as Chelsea lost at home for the first time since September 16.
Second-placed Tottenham took advantage by winning 2-0 at Burnley to trim Chelsea’s lead to seven points.
Liverpool closed to within 10 points of the leaders, albeit having played a game more, after sinking Everton 3-1 in the Merseyside derby.
But Manchester United lost ground in the race for top-four places following a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to West Brom.
Zaha’s headline-grabbing display against Chelsea followed a week of headlines about his decision to switch international allegiances from England to Ivory Coast last year.
His side fell behind in the fifth minute when Eden Hazard crossed from the left for Fabregas to score at the near post.
But Zaha levelled matters in the ninth minute, drilling home through a posse of defenders, and two minutes later his pass freed Benteke to dink a cocky finish over Thibaut Courtois.
Despite losing defenders James Tomkins and Scott Dann – Tomkins’s replacement – to injury, Sam Allardyce’s patched-up Palace side gallantly held on to stay four points clear of the bottom three.
“It was important to come and win here,” Palace defender Mamadou Sakho told the BBC. “We spoke at half-time about needing the three points. We weren’t here to go back with a draw. If you fight like it’s your last day, you can reverse everything.”
Spurs kept their title hopes flickering after Eric Dier scored from close range and Son Heung-min converted Dele Alli’s cross in the second half at Burnley.
However, victory came at the cost of injuries to midfielders Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks, who was taken to hospital with a potentially serious ankle injury.
Philippe Coutinho scored a dazzling goal and made another for Divock Origi as Liverpool overcame Everton at Anfield.
Sadio Mane put Liverpool in front in the eighth minute, drilling in following a one-two with Roberto Firmino, but was later forced off by a knee injury.
Matthew Pennington equalised, but Coutinho strolled past him to restore Liverpool’s lead with a fine, curling effort and then teed up Origi, Mane’s replacement, to slam home Liverpool’s third.
Everton midfielder Ross Barkley was fortunate to avoid a red card for a crude foul on Dejan Lovren, but his manager Ronald Koeman felt Liverpool’s protests were excessive.
“I don’t like coaches from the bench the whole time shouting to referees and linesmen, making a big show about tackles,” he said. “They were crazy. It’s a man’s sport.”
Victory lifted Liverpool to third, two points above Manchester City – who visit Arsenal tonight.
Leicester continued their resurgence with a 2-0 win at home to Stoke, their fifth successive win since Craig Shakespeare replaced Claudio Ranieri.