Chelsea kept up their push for a top-four finish in the Premier League and Champions League football next season with a 3-2 victory at London rivals Crystal Palace last night thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud, Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham.
The visitors took a two-goal lead inside half an hour through Giroud and Pulisic but Palace responded with a Wilfried Zaha goal before the break. Abraham made it 3-1 after 71 minutes only for Christian Benteke to strike back a minute later.
Palace then piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and in added time defender Scott Dann hit the post while only a last-ditch tackle by Kurt Zouma denied Benteke.
The win took Chelsea up to third, leapfrogging Leicester City who later held Arsenal 1-1, to stand five points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side went ahead in the seventh minute when former Blues defender Gary Cahill pulled up with an injury, giving Willian all the time he needed to cut the ball back for an easy finish by French striker Giroud.
The visitors doubled their lead 20 minutes later as Willian fed Pulisic on the edge of the box and the American shrugged off his marker Joel Ward to fire a fierce angled shot past goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.
Chelsea allowed Palace back into the game in the 34th minute when defender Reece James misplaced a pass and Zaha fired a powerful shot past surprised keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Abraham seemed to have wrapped up the win for Chelsea late on when he fired a low shot in off the post after being set up by fellow substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek. But Palace hit back within a minute when Patrick Van Aanholt got to the byline and squared for Benteke to tap the ball in.
Leicester’s Jamie Vardy pounced to score a crucial late equaliser as they hit back against Arsenal to draw 1-1 after the London side’s substitute Eddie Nketiah was sent off late on.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 21st-minute goal looked like handing the hosts a fourth successive win to maintain their late push for a top-four finish.
Visiting keeper Kasper Schmeichel made several fine saves to keep Leicester in the game after Aubameyang’s goal, but the visitors came back strongly in the second half.
TONIGHT’S FIXTURES: Man City v Newcastle (8pm), Sheffield v Wolverhampton (8pm), West Ham v Burnley (8pm), Brighton v Liverpool (10.15pm).