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Premier League: Chelsea edge out Palace in five-goal thriller

Chelsea further strengthened their position in the Premier League’s top four with victory over Crystal Palace in an entertaining encounter at Selhurst Park, that included a stunning long-range strike from Wilfried Zaha and a rare goal from Christian Benteke.

There was an element of fortune about the game’s opening goal, with Palace defender Gary Cahill pulling up with a match-ending injury to allow Willian to charge into the box unimpeded and set up Olivier Giroud to finish.

But the rest of the match was a testament to the kind of competitive, high-octane, see-saw football that draws so many viewers to the English top-flight, even when the grounds are empty of fans.

Twice Chelsea looked to have put the game beyond the home side, first through Christian Pulisic’s rising shot to make it 2-0 in the first half and then via Tammy Abraham’s neat finish with 19 minutes to go to put the Blues 3-1 up.

But this reckoned without the input of Zaha and Benteke.

Zaha’s goal was a superb strike, fiercely fired into the net via the crossbar from an unlikely distance. Benteke’s was more routine, tapped in from point-blank range following a neat move, but almost as surprising, it being his first goal at Selhurst Park since April 2018.

And Palace came within a whisker of snatching a point when Scott Dann’s back-post header struck the inside of the post before Chelsea hacked the ball clear.

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Chelsea’s win means they move above Leicester into third place in the table, five points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United.

With 42 to their name, Palace have too many points to worry about being dragged into a relegation fight, but manager Roy Hodgson and his side will be eager to end a losing streak that has now stretched to four games.

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