Lukaku ineffectual as in-form Ziyech rescues Chelsea

Hakim Ziyech was on target once again in the Premier League with a last-gasp volley to clinch a 1-0 victory for Chelsea over Crystal Palace.

By steering Marcos Alonso’s deep cross past substitute Jack Butland in the 89th minute, Ziyech scored for the third straight league game and secured an important three points.

The Blues looked to be heading back down to earth with a bump a week on from winning the Club World Cup for the first time in their history, with Antonio Rudiger and N’Golo Kante thwarted in the first half.

Palace came out fighting in the second period but were eventually undone by a composed finish from Ziyech, with Chelsea establishing an eight-point advantage over top-four chasing West Ham and Arsenal.

Michael Olise and Christian Pulisic passed up chances before Vicente Guaita kept out a searing 35-yard effort from Rudiger in the 11th minute.

Guaita did well to stop Kante firing home 10 minutes later and Wilfried Zaha went close to making the Blues pay from an acute angle in first-half stoppage time.

Ziyech thought he had scored the winner when he scored on the follow-up after Butland thwarted Romelu Lukaku, but the goal was disallowed by VAR for an offside against the Belgian.

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Chelsea were not to be denied, though, with Ziyech guiding a cool first-time finish home to silence Selhurst Park.

What does it mean? Blues back on track

By following up their 2-0 win over Tottenham in their previous top-flight outing with another victory, Chelsea secured back-to-back league successes for the first time since October.

They had only won five of their 14 matches in that time frame but will hope to build some momentum in the closing stages of the season after a ninth straight Premier League win over Palace.

Sarr shows versatility

Despite starting in the unfamiliar position of left wing-back, Malang Sarr was a positive force for Chelsea going forward in the opening period – creating the chances for Rudiger and Kante. He played further back in the second half and was withdrawn after picking up a yellow card for a tactical foul.

Lukaku lacking

He was selected as the focal point of Chelsea’s attack but Lukaku was completely ineffectual. He only had seven touches – just two of which were in the first half – and failed to register a single attempt on goal.

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