CONOR GALLAGHER bagged a brace to steal a vital late win against former club Crystal Palace.
The former Eagles’ loanee scored an injury time winner having levelled after Jefferson Lerma’s stunner had given Palace a first half lead.
After last week’s humbling at the hands of rivals Brighton, Crystal Palace were in need of a statement performance.
Their first half showing was a vast improvement, capped by Jefferson Lerma’s stunning first goal for the club.
The midfielder helped Tyrick Mitchell win the ball from Chelsea duo Noni Madueke and Moises Caicedo before lashing the ball in from almost 25-yards.
Chelsea had been torrid for the entire first half but returned with a bang as Connor Gallagher converted from Malo Gusto’s cross on his return to Selhurst Park shortly after the restart.
The Blues looked like they were not going to find a way through Palace’s back line until they broke in added time.
Palmer teed up Gallagher to grab the all-important second before also slotting the ball through for Fernandez to make it three.
Here is how the Chelsea players rated…
Djordje Petrovic – 6
Little chance of stopping Lerma’s superb effort, stopped anything else which came his way, including a smart effort by Matheus Franca and was assured playing out from the back.
Malo Gusto – 5
Recovered from a rotten first half in quick fashion by providing the assist for Gallagher’s equaliser.
Struggled against Franca at times but was much more dangerous going forward after the break.
Axel Disasi – 4
The defender looked out of sorts all night. He was easily beaten by Jean-Philippe Mateta in the build-up to the opening goal and then was caught in two minds whether to drop off or close down when Lerma was lining up his shot.
Thiago Silva – 6
Restored to the starting XI having been dropped at Aston Villa last week, the Brazilian looked far more composed than his last outing against Wolves.
Had to cover for partner Disasi at times and was forced off injured after putting his body on the line to block a strike from Mateta.
Ben Chilwell – 6
Ensured there was very little trouble from Palace down his side against the tricky Jordan Ayew and drifted in to help veteran Silva at times with some important interventions.
Chilwell was always an option going forward and saw a second half effort fizz agonisingly over the bar.
Moises Caicedo – 4
Brighton must get more enjoyment out of that £115million fee with every game that Caicedo plays.
Having taken a step forward in the Cup replay at Aston Villa, this was an almighty leap backwards. Palace’s tenacious midfielders were far too much for the most expensive player in the history of British football.
Redeemed himself a touch with a ball through to Munoz before he crossed for Gallagher’s goal ahead of a slightly improved second half, but the South American’s fee means he will be held to far higher standards.
Enzo Fernandez – 6
Far more assured on the ball than his midfield partner, but still looks to be trying to nail down an effective role in this Chelsea team.
The World Cup winner certainly showed his quality and composure with the late goal, taking his time to pick his spot.
Conor Gallagher – 8
Managed Chelsea’s first attempt at goal right at the end of a terrible first half from the visitors.
Found space well and delivered a fine finish shortly after the restart to level things up – before keeping his cool to pick out the far corner and break the hearts of his former teammates in stoppage time.
Noni Madueke – 4
Encouraging early signs faded very quickly. The former PSV winger was far too soft under pressure in his own half and gave the ball up for the opening goal alongside Caicedo.
The England Under-21 international was hooked at half time having been pinned down by Tyrick Mitchell and exploited by Franca.
Nicolas Jackson – 5
A couple of nice touches but struggled to really cause Palace’s defensive pair too many problems having been largely starved of service throughout a frustrating night at Selhurst Park for the forward.
Cole Palmer – 7
The England man started the game through the middle for Chelsea but was quiet throughout the first half.
Palmer looked more like himself after being moved back out to his favoured right side but took his time to get going.
He showed great composure in the final third to create Chelsea’s two late goals.
Christopher Nkunku (Madueke, 45) – 5
Offered a touch more of a threat through the middle than Palmer bid did very little to catch the eye.
Levi Colwill (Silva, 61) – 6
Rarely troubled after replacing Silva but did pick a fight with Joachim Andersen to get the travelling fans going.
Raheem Sterling (Jackson, 78) – 7
Got Chelsea on the front foot to as they raced forward to grab a late winner.
Alfie Gilchrist (Gusto, 83’) – 6
Brought on to shore things up down the right late on and did just that.