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Blues see off fiesty neighbours

NUMBER ONE: Jose Mourinho's team lead the Premier League table

CHELSEA BEAT Crystal Palace in a feisty London derby to keep their early season momentum going, restoring their five-point gap at the top of the table.

In the first minute of the gam, Chelsea custodian Thibaut Courtois was called upon to smother a shot by Frazier Campbell. A minute later, Courtois saved Brede Hangeland’s header from a corner.

Moments later Chelsea were awarded a free kick, in what was their first attempt on goal. Oscar duly stepped up and whipped the ball past Julian Speroni to give the West Londoners the lead.

Palace immediately responded with a chance of their own. Gary Cahill had one of those moments and misjudged the flight of the ball. Campbell nipped in but his chip was just over the bar.

With 39 minutes on the clock Palace winger Jason Puncheon hit a long-range shot. A minute later Chelsea went down to ten men.

Cesar Azpilicueta lunged into a two-footed tackle with his studs high on Miles Jedinak and the referee showed him a straight red card. Jose Mourinho brought Filipe Luis on in place of Willian.

Moments later Palace were also down to ten men as Damien Delaney was shown a second yellow card. Chelsea went into the break with their lead intact.

Just after the break, Cesc Fabregas doubled Chelsea’s lead. After a neat interchange of passes with Eden Hazard and Oscar, the Spaniard calmly slotted the ball past Speroni.

Home boss Neil Warnock made some changes, including Wilfred Zaha, but it was to no avail as Chelsea used all of their experience.

Palace found it difficult to get the ball off them as the likes of Fabregas, Hazard and the giant Nemanja Matic and Oscar just moved the ball from side to side.

Towards the end of the match, Yannick Bolasie was played in but Cahill nicked the ball off his toes before he could shoot.

Palace pulled a goal back right at the end. Zaha got the ball on the right wing, got to the by-line and crossed the ball to Campbell for an easy tap in.

With four added minutes Palace went looking for the equaliser but Chelsea battened down the hatches and were able to hold on.

Palace can take hope from this game with the belief that they will not always play teams like Chelsea every week.

However they must continue to take points from teams around them to have a chance to stay in this division.

Warnock said: “I think we played really well. We could have scored two or three goals.”

Chelsea can afford to be without the injured Diego Costa against Palace, but they will need him in the big games. They must pray that his hamstrings are up to it.

Mourinho said: “The way Matic and Fabregas moved together was magnificent.

"At the moment this is my team. We lose players and we recover players. The spirit we have is good.

"If we were in another league I would say we would win the league. But in the Premier League we can but there are many things in front of us.

"We are a better team than last season. To win the title there is a long way to go.”

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